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Volume 28 Issue 1 (February 2019), Pages 1-251

Children’s narrative story stem responses: Contributions of executive functioning and language proficiency to relationship representations (pages 168-185)

Abstract Story stem narrative tasks provide insight into young children's inner experiences. Little research has investigated how developmental capacities impact narrative content and process. This study evaluates the influence of executive functioning (EF) and language ability on children's narratives. Data were gathered from 210 low‐income children. EF and language ability were assessed at age 4 and EF was assessed at age 6 via direct examination, cognitive‐motor tasks, and examiner ratings. Children's responses to eight story stems were gathered at age 6; three latent narrative variables were constructed (Prosocial, Aggressive/Conflict, and Avoidance/Danger), and Narrative Coherence was rated. Results of longitudinal path analyses in structural equation modeling demonstrated age 4 EF significantly predicted all narrative outcomes. Language ability independently predicted Prosocial and Narrative Coherence, and had an influence on Aggression/Conflict when modeled with EF. Age 6 EF mediated the relationship between age 4 EF and narrative outcomes. Findings provide insight into developmental abilities that influence on children's narrative responses to challenging interpersonal scenarios. Future research should study parent–child relations, EF, and language abilities simultaneously.

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