Executive Processes in Appearance–Reality Tasks: The Role of Inhibition of Attention and Symbolic Representation



Two studies addressed the role of representation ability and control of attention on solutions to an appearance–reality task based on two types of objects, real and representational. In Study 1, 67 preschool children (3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds) solved appearance–reality problems and executive processing tasks. There was an interaction between object type (real vs. representational) and question type (appearance vs. reality) on problem difficulty. In addition, representational ability predicted performance on appearance questions and inhibitory control predicted performance on reality questions. In Study 2, 95 children (4- and 5-year-olds) who were monolingual or bilingual solved similar problems. On appearance questions, groups performed equivalently but on reality questions, bilinguals performed better (once language proficiency had been controlled). The difference is attributed to the advanced inhibitory control that comes with bilingualism.