Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 335–345 | Cite as

Executive Inhibitory Control and Cooperative Behavior During Early School Years: A Follow-Up Study

  • Silvia CiairanoEmail author
  • Laura Visu-Petra
  • Michele Settanni
Original Paper


Several links between aspects of executive functioning and the development of social competence have been established. The present study investigates the relation between executive inhibitory control and cooperative/non-cooperative behavior, in an ecological setting, and from a longitudinal perspective. Elementary school children (n=195) of three age groups (7, 9, 11 years, initially) were measured at two consecutive time points, at a one-year interval, with tasks tapping executive inhibitory control (the Stroop test), and social competence (a collaborative puzzle solving task). Executive inhibition was identified as the most influential stable predictor only in the case of non-cooperative behavior and presented strong concurrent relations with both cooperative and non-cooperative behavior at follow-up, even when controlling for previous level of the same behavior. The findings imply the need to consider the important role of executive inhibitory processes in multifactorial models of social competence development and in the refinement of present interventions.


Executive inhibition Social competence Cooperative behavior School-based interventions 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Silvia Bonino and Dr. Oana Benga for support and advice throughout this research project; we would also like to thank Dr. Graham Schafer and Lindsay McDonald for their help with editing the manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge the participation of children and staff members who made this research possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Ciairano
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laura Visu-Petra
    • 2
  • Michele Settanni
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Laboratory of Developmental PsychologyUniversity of TorinoTorinoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Program of Cognitive NeuroscienceBabes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Republicii Str. 37Cluj-NapocaRomania

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