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Development of intra- and interlingual interference in bilinguals

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Developmental changes in intra- and interlingual interference were followed in 74 German-Swedish bilingual and 15 trilingual subjects using Stroop tasks for vision. The results provide evidence that the differential pattern of interference is mainly determined by language usage. Intra- and interlingual interference follow language dominance patterns in an everchanging process; hence, it is the point of measurement that determines whether equivalent or different amounts of interference are obtained. Stimuli characteristics determine points of language balance but are—like cognitive capabilities—of minor importance for the differential pattern of interference. Stroop task performance cannot be taken as evidence for or against the interdependence hypothesis of bilingual storage, since the Stroop situation does not permit one language to be turned off. Prolonged response times in multilinguals, found in this study, are more congruent with the interdependence hypothesis. By providing this developmental perspective, the current findings can explain previous contradictory results.

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Author information

Correspondence to Edith Mägiste.

Additional information

This research was supported by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. It was reported in a paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on Psycholinguistics and Foreign Language Learning, Åbo, Finland, October 25–6, 1982.

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Mägiste, E. Development of intra- and interlingual interference in bilinguals. J Psycholinguist Res 14, 137–154 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01067626

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  • Response Time
  • Task Performance
  • Current Finding
  • Contradictory Result
  • Developmental Change