Stability and Predictors of Change in Executive Functions from the Age of 6 to 8
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- Institutt for psykologi 
Executive functions have been identified as major predictors of a range of developmental outcomes in children including social adjustment, mental health and academic achievement. However, there are considerable gaps in our knowledge regarding what affects the development of executive functions. By examining a large community sample of 6 year olds (N=687) and their parents with follow-up at age 8, this study aimed at filling in some of these gaps by analyzing a range of likely predictors of the development of executive functions. Measures of three components of executive functions; working memory, inhibition and set shifting, were obtained. Predictors included were emotion regulation, socioeconomic status, attachment, experience of major stressful life events, and parental emotional availability. Executive functioning evidenced little stability from age 6 to 8. Growth factor modeling revealed that experiencing of major stressful life events predicted a diminished increase in executive function from age 6 to 8. Findings are discussed in relation to theory and empirical data on the development of executive functions.