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What makes responses prepotent for young children? Insights from the grass-snow task

Simpson, Andrew; Riggs, Kevin J.

Authors

Andrew Simpson



Abstract

Understanding how responses become prepotent is essential for understanding when inhibitory control is needed in everyday behaviour. We investigated prepotency in the grass–snow task—in which a child points to a green card when the experimenter says ‘snow’ and a white card when the experimenter says ‘grass’. Experiment 1 (n=48, mean age=3.5 years) investigated the response method effect—whether pointing is prepotent because it is habitual. Experiment 2 (n=60, mean age=3.5 years) investigated the response set effect—whether responses are prepotent because the child plans to make them in the task. Experiment 2 also provided evidence that children could remember the rules in the task. Experiment 3 (n=30, mean age=3.4 years) produced further evidence that children could remember these rules. We found no evidence for the response method and response set effects, suggesting that prepotency in the grass–snow task is more ‘stimulus-driven’ than in tasks previously studied. The implications of our findings are discussed in relation to other developmental inhibitory tasks and to children's reliance on inhibitory control to regulate their everyday behaviour.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2009-01
Journal Infant and Child Development
Print ISSN 1522-7227
Electronic ISSN 1522-7219
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 1
Pages 21-35
Institution Citation Simpson, A., & Riggs, K. J. (2009). What makes responses prepotent for young children? Insights from the grass-snow task. Infant and Child Development, 18(1), 21-35. doi:10.1002/icd.576
DOI https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.576
Keywords Development; Prepotency; Inhibition; Executive function; Selective attention
Publisher URL https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/icd.576