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Volume 10 Issue 5 (September 2007), Pages 513-711

Use it or lose it: examining preschoolers’ difficulty in maintaining and executing a goal (pages 559-564)


Individuals with low working memory capacity (e.g. preschoolers) are more prone to goal neglect, or a failure to execute a goal even though it is understood. We examined the role of goal neglect in performance on the Dimensional Change Card Sort by including ‘redundant’ cards that could be sorted without attending to the rules, as well as the traditional ‘conflict’ cards that encouraged awareness of the rules. In Experiment 1, 4‐ and 5‐year‐old children were administered two card sorts that differed on the proportion of redundant cards presented (20% vs. 80%). Children neglected the goal more often when faced with a preponderance of redundant cards, suggesting that consistent attention to the rules leads to goal maintenance. In Experiment 2, results were replicated even when the post‐switch rules were repeated on every trial. Implications for the development of working memory are discussed.

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