Behavior Research Methods

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 62–70 | Cite as

Variations of the flanker paradigm: Assessing selective attention in young children

  • Jennifer Martin McDermottEmail author
  • Koraly Pérez-Edgar
  • Nathan A. Fox


The development of selective attention and associated self-regulatory processes was assessed in young children, ages 4, 5, and 6, through the use of three alternative versions of the flanker paradigm utilizing colors, shapes, and fish. These variations were used to examine the influence of task differences on children’s performance. The presence of cognitive self-regulatory strategies in young children was also assessed. Significant flanker interference effects, marked by significant task-linked response time differences, were found across all three versions of the paradigm. Although a significant portion of children demonstrated self-regulatory abilities, not every participant demonstrated the specific strategies of self-monitoring and response control. Furthermore, these differences were evident across all age groups. The implications of these results are discussed within the theoretical context of task development, taking into consideration the need to modify computerized attention paradigms for use with young children in order to reliably measure cognitive constructs across children and adults.


Interference Effect Selective Attention Incongruent Trial Color Version Effortful Control 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Martin McDermott
    • 1
    Email author
  • Koraly Pérez-Edgar
    • 1
  • Nathan A. Fox
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human DevelopmentUniversity of MarylandCollege Park

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