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J Genet Psychol. 2000 Jun;161(2):216-34.

The development of children's knowledge of attention and resource allocation in single and dual tasks.

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1
Department of Psychology, University of Louisville, KY 40292, USA.

Abstract

Developmental changes in kindergarten, 1st-, and 4th-grade children's knowledge about the variables that affect attention sharing and resource allocation were examined. Findings from the 2 experiments showed that kindergartners understood that person and strategy variables affect performance in attention-sharing tasks. However, knowledge of how task variables affect performance was not evident to them and was inconsistent for 1st and 4th graders. Children's knowledge about resource allocation revealed a different pattern and varied according to the dissimilarity of task demands in the attention-sharing task. In Experiment 1, in which the dual attention tasks were similar (i.e., visual detection), kindergarten and 1st-grade children did not differentiate performance in single and dual tasks. Fourth graders demonstrated knowledge that performance on a single task would be better than performance on the dual tasks for only 2 of the variables examined. In Experiment 2, in which the dual attention tasks were dissimilar (i.e., visual and auditory detection), kindergarten and 1st-grade children demonstrated knowledge that performance in the single task would be better than in the dual tasks for 1 of the task variables examined. However, 4th-grade children consistently gave higher ratings for performance on the single than on the dual attention tasks for all variables examined. These findings (a) underscore that children's meta-attention is not unitary and (b) demonstrate that children's knowledge about variables affecting attention sharing and resource allocation have different developmental pathways. Results show that knowledge about attention sharing and about the factors that influence the control of attention develops slowly and undergoes reorganization in middle childhood.

PMID:
10851683
DOI:
10.1080/00221320009596707
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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