Preschool children's performance in task switching on the dimensional change card sort task: Separating the dimensions aids the ability to switch

Adele Diamond, Stephanie M. Carlson, Danielle M. Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

155 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fifty-seven children (53% female) at 3 ages (21/2, 3, and 31/2 years) were tested on the standard Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS) task with integrated stimuli (e.g., a red truck) and on a separated-dimensions version where colorless shapes were presented on a colored background (e.g., a black truck on a red background). Roughly twice as many children successfully switched sorting dimensions when color was a property of the background than when color was a property of the shape itself. Children succeeded 6 months earlier in switching sorting criteria when the dimensions were separated. When evidence of both indecision and accuracy was taken into account, a clear and rich developmental progression emerged. These results support an inhibitory control interpretation of preschoolers' problems on the DCCS task. Diamond theorized that young children can have difficulty integrating features not part of a single object and separating features of a single object so that the object can be categorized first by one attribute and then by another. Preschoolers remain stuck in thinking about objects according to the objects' initially relevant attribute (attentional inertia; Kirkham, Cruess, & Diamond, 2003). To switch perspectives, the old way of thinking about the objects must be inhibited. Separating color and shape reduced the need for such inhibition; a truck was always a truck, and the background was always red.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-729
Number of pages41
JournalDevelopmental Neuropsychology
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 5 2005
Externally publishedYes

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