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Childrens Narrative Story Stem Responses: Contributions of Executive Functioning and Language Proficiency to Relationship Representations.

NCJ Number
Social Development Volume: 28 Issue: 1 Dated: 2019 Pages: 168-185
Jennifer. Dealy; Hannah Mudrick; JoAnn Robinson
Date Published
18 pages
Although story-stem narrative tasks provide insight into young childrens inner experiences, little research has investigated how developmental capacities impact narrative content and process, so the current study assessed the influence of executive functioning (EF) and language ability on childrens narratives.
Data were obtained from 210 low-income children to assess EF and language ability at age 4, and EF was assessed at age 6 via direct examination, cognitive motor tasks, and examiner ratings. Childrens responses to eight story stems were obtained at age 6; three latent narrative variables were constructed (Prosocial, Aggressive/Conflict, and Avoidance/Danger), and Narrative Coherence was rated. Results of longitudinal path analyses in structural equation modeling demonstrated age 4 EF significantly predicted all narrative outcomes. Language ability independently predicted Prosocial and Narrative Coherence and had an influence on Aggression/Conflict when modeled with EF. At age 6, EF mediated the relationship between age 4 EF and narrative outcomes. Findings provide insight into developmental abilities that influence childrens narrative responses to challenging interpersonal scenarios. Future research should study parent-child relations, EF, and language abilities simultaneously. (publisher abstract modified)