Does Batman™ affect EF because he is benevolent or skilful? The effect of different pretend roles on pre-schoolers' executive functions

Alexander Nikolaevich Veraksa, Margarita Nikolaevna Gavrilova, Daria Аlexeevna Bukhalenkova, Olga Almazova, Nikolay Veraksa, Yeshe Colliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Previous research has indicated that young children’s executive functions (EFs) can be bolstered through role-play [e.g. the ‘Batman™ effect’; White et al.]. However, what is not clear is whether it is the role-playing of another’s perspective, or something about the role played, which is responsible for the Batman™ effect. The current experiment investigated the effects of role-play of different roles (protagonist, villain, and sage) with different traits (benevolence, malevolence, skill) on 80 five- to six-year-old children’s EF performance. Results indicated significantly improved cold – but not hot – EF scores for the Sage and Control groups. Consistent with Vygotsky’s theory that children transfer imagined content into real-world applications, this study provides preliminary evidence that pretending to be someone with EF skills can bolster young children’s cold EF performance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • Executive functions
  • cognitive flexibility
  • imaginary play
  • inhibition
  • motor persistence
  • pretend play

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