The effects of guilt on preschoolers’ cognitive flexibility and inhibition

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The current study examined the effects of guilt on two aspects of children's cognitive functioning: cognitive inhibition and flexibility. Three- to 5-year olds were induced into a guilt state or a neutral state and then completed the Shape School task and the Dimensional Change Card Sort. Results indicated that 3- to 4.5-year-olds in the guilt condition had worse inhibitory control scores than those in the neutral condition; however, the two groups’ flexibility scores did not differ significantly. Further, the effect of guilt on cognitive inhibition was only evident for the younger children; no significant effects emerged for 4.5- to 5.9-year-olds. We discuss the implications of the current findings for developmental models of emotion and cognition.




Lapan, C., & Boseovski, J. J. (2017). The effects of guilt on preschoolers’ cognitive flexibility and inhibition. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 41, 95–102.

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