ResearchPad - Developmental and Educational Psychology Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Assessing the Impact of Early Learning Programs in Africa]]>


We present results from early learning programs in six African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda. In partnership with ministries of education, RTI International has worked within government systems to support the design and deployment of locally contextualized materials, training, and assessment tools, with the goal of improving outcomes for early learners in primary schools, and in Kenya and Tanzania preprimary as well. Here we report on the experience and evidence of impact from specific programs in each country, including summary assessment results when available. In several countries with completed impact evaluations, there are significant and important learning gains of between 0.2 and 2.57 SD in effect size; in one case the percentage of students reaching grade‐level reading proficiency increased from 12% to 47%. In the context of increased urgency surrounding what UNESCO has called a “global learning crisis,” these experiences provide useful lessons for policymakers and practitioners alike.

<![CDATA[Gender differences in developmental dyscalculia depend on diagnostic criteria]]> <![CDATA[Mapping the hinterland: Data issues in open science]]>

Open science is a practice in which the scientific process is shared completely and in real time. It offers the potential to support information flow, collaboration and dialogue among professional and non-professional participants. Using semi-structured interviews and case studies, this research investigated the relationship between open science and public engagement. This article concentrates on three particular areas of concern that emerged: first, how to effectively contextualise and narrate information to render it accessible, as opposed to simply available; second, concerns about data quantity and quality; and third, concerns about the skills required for effective contextualisation, mapping and interpretation of information.

<![CDATA[Correlational structure of ‘frontal’ tests and intelligence tests indicates two components with asymmetrical neurostructural correlates in old age]]>

Both general fluid intelligence (gf) and performance on some ‘frontal tests’ of cognition decline with age. Both types of ability are at least partially dependent on the integrity of the frontal lobes, which also deteriorate with age. Overlap between these two methods of assessing complex cognition in older age remains unclear. Such overlap could be investigated using inter-test correlations alone, as in previous studies, but this would be enhanced by ascertaining whether frontal test performance and gf share neurobiological variance. To this end, we examined relationships between gf and 6 frontal tests (Tower, Self-Ordered Pointing, Simon, Moral Dilemmas, Reversal Learning and Faux Pas tests) in 90 healthy males, aged ~ 73 years. We interpreted their correlational structure using principal component analysis, and in relation to MRI-derived regional frontal lobe volumes (relative to maximal healthy brain size). gf correlated significantly and positively (.24 ≤ r ≤ .53) with the majority of frontal test scores. Some frontal test scores also exhibited shared variance after controlling for gf. Principal component analysis of test scores identified units of gf-common and gf-independent variance. The former was associated with variance in the left dorsolateral (DL) and anterior cingulate (AC) regions, and the latter with variance in the right DL and AC regions. Thus, we identify two biologically-meaningful components of variance in complex cognitive performance in older age and suggest that age-related changes to DL and AC have the greatest cognitive impact.

<![CDATA[Intelligence, creativity, and cognitive control: The common and differential involvement of executive functions in intelligence and creativity]]>

Intelligence and creativity are known to be correlated constructs suggesting that they share a common cognitive basis. The present study assessed three specific executive abilities – updating, shifting, and inhibition – and examined their common and differential relations to fluid intelligence and creativity (i.e., divergent thinking ability) within a latent variable model approach. Additionally, it was tested whether the correlation of fluid intelligence and creativity can be explained by a common executive involvement. As expected, fluid intelligence was strongly predicted by updating, but not by shifting or inhibition. Creativity was predicted by updating and inhibition, but not by shifting. Moreover, updating (and the personality factor openness) was found to explain a relevant part of the shared variance between intelligence and creativity. The findings provide direct support for the executive involvement in creative thought and shed further light on the functional relationship between intelligence and creativity.

<![CDATA[Religiosity is negatively associated with later-life intelligence, but not with age-related cognitive decline]]>

A well-replicated finding in the psychological literature is the negative correlation between religiosity and intelligence. However, several studies also conclude that one form of religiosity, church attendance, is protective against later-life cognitive decline. No effects of religious belief per se on cognitive decline have been found, potentially due to the restricted measures of belief used in previous studies. Here, we examined the associations between religiosity, intelligence, and cognitive change in a cohort of individuals (initial n = 550) with high-quality measures of religious belief taken at age 83 and multiple cognitive measures taken in childhood and at four waves between age 79 and 90. We found that religious belief, but not attendance, was negatively related to intelligence. The effect size was smaller than in previous studies of younger participants. Longitudinal analyses showed no effect of either religious belief or attendance on cognitive change either from childhood to old age, or across the ninth decade of life. We discuss differences between our cohort and those in previous studies – including in age and location – that may have led to our non-replication of the association between religious attendance and cognitive decline.

<![CDATA[A Gentle Introduction to Bayesian Analysis: Applications to Developmental Research]]>

Bayesian statistical methods are becoming ever more popular in applied and fundamental research. In this study a gentle introduction to Bayesian analysis is provided. It is shown under what circumstances it is attractive to use Bayesian estimation, and how to interpret properly the results. First, the ingredients underlying Bayesian methods are introduced using a simplified example. Thereafter, the advantages and pitfalls of the specification of prior knowledge are discussed. To illustrate Bayesian methods explained in this study, in a second example a series of studies that examine the theoretical framework of dynamic interactionism are considered. In the Discussion the advantages and disadvantages of using Bayesian statistics are reviewed, and guidelines on how to report on Bayesian statistics are provided.

<![CDATA[An inventory of European data sources for the long-term safety evaluation of methylphenidate]]>

To compile an inventory of European healthcare databases with potential to study long-term effects of methylphenidate (MPH) in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Potential databases were identified through expert opinion, the website of the European Network of Centres for Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacovigilance, and literature search. An online survey was conducted among database providers/coordinators to ascertain the databases’ appropriateness for inclusion into the inventory. It included questions about database characteristics, sample size, availability of information on drug exposure, clinical data and accessibility. Forty-two databases from 11 countries were identified and their coordinators invited to participate; responses were obtained for 22 (52.4 %) databases of which 15 record ADHD diagnoses. Eleven had sufficient data on ADHD diagnosis, drug exposure, and at least one type of outcome information (symptoms/clinical events, weight, height, blood pressure, heart rate) to assess MPH safety. These were Aarhus University Prescription Database, Danish National Birth Cohort (Denmark); German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents; Health Search Database Thales, Italian ADHD Register, Lombardy Region ADHD Database (Italy); Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, General Practice Research Database, The Health Improvement Network, QResearch (UK) and IMS Disease Analyzer (UK, Germany, France). Of the 20 databases with no responses, information on seven from publications and/or websites was obtained; Pedianet and the Integrated Primary Care Information database were considered suitable. Many European healthcare databases can be used for multinational long-term safety studies of MPH. Methodological research is underway to investigate the feasibility of their pooling and analysis.

<![CDATA[Implicit action encoding influences personal-trait judgments]]>

When an observed action (e.g., kicking) is compatible to a to be produced action (e.g., a foot-key response as compared to a finger-key response), then the self-produced action is more fluent, that is, it is more accurate and faster. A series of experiments explore the notion that vision–action compatibility effects can influence personal-trait judgments. It is demonstrated that when an observed individual carries out an action that is compatible with the participants’ response, (1) this individual is identified more fluently, and (2) the observed individual’s personality is attributed with the properties of the observed action. For example, if it is easier to identify one individual with a foot-response when he is seen kicking a ball, as compared to typing, he is perceived to be more ‘sporty’. In contrast, if it is easier to identify one individual with a finger response when he is seen typing as compared to kicking a ball, he is associated with the ‘academic’ trait. These personal-trait judgment effects can be observed with explicit measures, where participants are asked to rate the sporty/academic nature of the person on a scale. They are also obtained when implicit measures are taken in a priming task, where participants are never explicitly asked to rate the personalities of the individuals. A control experiment rules out that these personal-trait effects are merely due to an association of motor responses (foot, finger) to individuals while identifying them, but that these effects depend on a prior manipulation of vision–action fluency.

<![CDATA[Multiple Determinants of Externalizing Behavior in 5-Year-Olds: A Longitudinal Model]]>

In a community sample of 116 children, assessments of parent-child interaction, parent-child attachment, and various parental, child, and contextual characteristics at 15 and 28 months and at age 5 were used to predict externalizing behavior at age 5, as rated by parents and teachers. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis and path analysis yielded a significant longitudinal model for the prediction of age 5 externalizing behavior, with independent contributions from the following predictors: child sex, partner support reported by the caregiver, disorganized infant-parent attachment at 15 months, child anger proneness at 28 months, and one of the two parent-child interaction factors observed at 28 months, namely negative parent-child interactions. The other, i.e., a lack of effective guidance, predicted externalizing problems only in highly anger-prone children. Furthermore, mediated pathways of influence were found for the parent-child interaction at 15 months (via disorganized attachment) and parental ego-resiliency (via negative parent-child interaction at 28 months).

<![CDATA[Being Admired or Being Liked: Classroom Social Status and Depressive Problems in Early Adolescent Girls and Boys]]>

This study investigates associations between depressive problems and classroom social status in a large population cohort of Dutch early adolescents (N = 1046, age 13.52 ± 0.51, 52.4% girls). Depressive problems were assessed by parent and self-reports and classroom status by peer nominations. We assessed peer status with respect to both achievement-related (being a good learner, being good at sports, being good-looking) and affection-related (being liked, being disliked, being best friend) areas. In boys, depressive problems were most strongly associated with not being good at sports, while in girls the association was strongest for not being liked. The risk of a low status in one area could largely be compensated by a high status in another area.

<![CDATA[Children’s Feedback Preferences in Response to an Experimentally Manipulated Peer Evaluation Outcome: The Role of Depressive Symptoms]]>

The present study examined the linkage between pre-adolescent children’s depressive symptoms and their preferences for receiving positive vs. negative feedback subsequent to being faced with an experimentally manipulated peer evaluation outcome in real time. Participants (n = 142) ages 10 to 13, played a computer contest based on the television show Survivor and were randomized to either a peer rejection (i.e., receiving the lowest total ‘likeability’ score from a group of peer-judges), a peer success (i.e., receiving the highest score), or a control peer evaluation condition. Children’s self-reported feedback preferences were then assessed. Results revealed that participants assigned to the negative evaluation outcome, relative to either the success or the control outcome, showed a significantly higher subsequent preference for negatively tuned feedback. Contrary to previous work and predictions derived from self-verification theory, children higher in depressive symptoms were only more likely to prefer negative feedback in response to the negative peer evaluation outcome. These effects for depression were not accounted for by either state mood at baseline or mood change in response to the feedback manipulation.

<![CDATA[Associations of Maternal Prenatal Smoking with Early Childhood Physical Aggression, Hyperactivity-Impulsivity, and Their Co-Occurrence]]>

This study investigated associations between maternal prenatal smoking and physical aggression (PA), hyperactivity-impulsivity (HI) and co-occurring PA and HI between ages 17 and 42 months in a population sample of children born in Québec (Canada) in 1997/1998 (N=1745). Trajectory model estimation showed three distinct developmental patterns for PA and four for HI. Multinomial regression analyses showed that prenatal smoking significantly predicted children’s likelihood to follow different PA trajectories beyond the effects of other perinatal factors, parental psychopathology, family functioning and parenting, and socio-economic factors. However, prenatal smoking was not a significant predictor of HI in a model with the same control variables. Further multinomial regression analyses showed that, together with gender, presence of siblings and maternal hostile reactive parenting, prenatal smoking independently predicted co-occurring high PA and high HI compared to low levels of both behaviors, to high PA alone, and to high HI alone. These results show that maternal prenatal smoking predicts multiple behavior regulation problems in early childhood.

<![CDATA[Factors that may Facilitate or Hinder a Family-Focus in the Treatment of Parents with a Mental Illness]]>

Children with mentally ill parents are at risk of developing mental health problems themselves. To enhance early support for these children may prevent mental health problems from being transmitted from one generation to the next. The sample (N = 219) included health professionals in a large university hospital, who responded to a web-based survey on the routines of the mental health services, attitudes within the workforce capacity, worker’s knowledge on the impact of parental mental illness on children, knowledge on legislation concerning children of patients, experience, expectations for possible outcomes of change in current clinical practice and demographic variables. A total of 56 % reported that they did not identify whether or not patients had children. There were no significant differences between the groups (identifiers and non-identifiers) except for the two scales measuring aspects of knowledge, i.e., Knowledge Children and Knowledge Legislation where workers who identified children had higher scores. The results also showed that younger workers with a medium level of education scored higher on Positive Attitudes. Furthermore, workers who reported to have more knowledge about children and the impact of mental illness on the parenting role were less concerned about a child-focussed approach interfering with the patient-therapist relation.

<![CDATA[Overcoming barriers to effective early parenting interventions for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): parent and practitioner views]]>


The importance of early intervention approaches for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been increasingly acknowledged. Parenting programmes (PPs) are recommended for use with preschool children with ADHD. However, low ‘take-up’ and high ‘drop-out’ rates compromise the effectiveness of such programmes within the community.


This qualitative study examined the views of 25 parents and 18 practitioners regarding currently available PPs for preschool children with ADHD-type problems in the UK. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken to identify both barriers and facilitators associated with programme access, programme effectiveness, and continued engagement.

Results and conclusions

Many of the themes mirrored previous accounts relating to generic PPs for disruptive behaviour problems. There were also a number of ADHD-specific themes. Enhancing parental motivation to change parenting practice and providing an intervention that addresses the parents' own needs (e.g. in relation to self-confidence, depression or parental ADHD), in addition to those of the child, were considered of particular importance. Comparisons between the views of parents and practitioners highlighted a need to increase awareness of parental psychological barriers among practitioners and for better programme advertising generally. Clinical implications and specific recommendations drawn from these findings are discussed and presented.

<![CDATA[Nature, nurture, and expertise]]>

Rather than investigating the extent to which training can improve performance under experimental conditions (‘what could be’), we ask about the origins of expertise as it exists in the world (‘what is’). We used the twin method to investigate the genetic and environmental origins of exceptional performance in reading, a skill that is a major focus of educational training in the early school years. Selecting reading experts as the top 5% from a sample of 10,000 12-year-old twins assessed on a battery of reading tests, three findings stand out. First, we found that genetic factors account for more than half of the difference in performance between expert and normal readers. Second, our results suggest that reading expertise is the quantitative extreme of the same genetic and environmental factors that affect reading performance for normal readers. Third, growing up in the same family and attending the same schools account for less than a fifth of the difference between expert and normal readers. We discuss implications and interpretations (‘what is inherited is DNA sequence variation’; ‘the abnormal is normal’). Finally, although there is no necessary relationship between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’, the most far-reaching issues about the acquisition of expertise lie at the interface between them (‘the nature of nurture: from a passive model of imposed environments to an active model of shaped experience’).

<![CDATA[Autoantibodies targeting neurotransmitter biosynthetic enzymes in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)]]> ]]> <![CDATA[Discrimination of familiar human faces in dogs (Canis familiaris)]]>

Faces are an important visual category for many taxa, and the human face is no exception to this. Because faces differ in subtle ways and possess many idiosyncratic features, they provide a rich source of perceptual cues. A fair amount of those cues are learned through social interactions and are used for future identification of individual humans. These effects of individual experience can be studied particularly well in hetero-specific face perception. Domestic dogs represent a perfect model in this respect, due to their proved ability to extract important information from the human face in socio-communicative interactions. There is also suggestive evidence that dogs can identify their owner or other familiar human individuals by using visual information from the face. However, most studies have used only dogs’ looking behavior to examine their visual processing of human faces and it has been demonstrated only that dogs can differentiate between familiar and unknown human faces. Here, we examined the dog's ability to discriminate the faces of two familiar persons by active choice (approach and touch). Furthermore, in successive stages of the experiment we investigated how well dogs discriminate humans in different representations by systematically reducing the informational richness and the quality of the stimuli. We found a huge inter-individual and inter-stage variance in performance, indicating differences across dogs in their learning ability as well as their selection of discriminative cues. On a group level, the performance of dogs significantly decreased when they were presented with pictures of human heads after having learned to discriminate the real heads, and when – after relearning – confronted with the same pictures showing only the inner parts of the heads. However, as two dogs quickly mastered all stages, we conclude that dogs are in principle able to discriminate people on the basis of visual information from their faces and by making active choices.

<![CDATA[Optimistic biases in observational learning of value]]>

Action-outcome contingencies can be learnt either by active trial-and-error, or vicariously, by observing the outcomes of actions performed by others. The extant literature is ambiguous as to which of these modes of learning is more effective, as controlled comparisons of operant and observational learning are rare. Here, we contrasted human operant and observational value learning, assessing implicit and explicit measures of learning from positive and negative reinforcement. Compared to direct operant learning, we show observational learning is associated with an optimistic over-valuation of low-value options, a pattern apparent both in participants’ choice preferences and their explicit post-hoc estimates of value. Learning of higher value options showed no such bias. We suggest that such a bias can be explained as a tendency for optimistic underestimation of the chance of experiencing negative events, an optimism repressed when information is gathered through direct operant learning.