Preschool executive control predicts social information processing in early elementary school

Anna Johnson, Jennifer Mize Nelson, Cara C. Tomaso, Tiffany James, Kimberly Andrews Espy, Timothy D. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Social-information processing (SIP) theory is a well-established framework for understanding the cognitive processes that underlie children's social competence and has been linked to maladaptive outcomes, especially aggression. The current study examines preschool executive control, higher-order cognitive functions controlling attention and goal-oriented behavior, as a predictor of subsequent SIP abilities in early elementary school. 313 typically developing children (51% female) completed a battery of 9 rigorous, developmentally appropriate executive control tasks at age 5 years, 3 months and completed measurements of SIP in first grade (M age = 6.57). Results indicate that preschool executive control was predictive of two steps of SIP, encoding and response generation, after controlling for sex, age, and income-to-needs ratio. Findings suggest that poor executive control in early childhood may be an important risk factor for deficits in specific SIP steps and points to executive control as a potential target for intervention to prevent the development of later social problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101195
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Elementary school
  • Executive control
  • Preschool
  • Social competence
  • Social information processing
  • Structural equation modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Preschool executive control predicts social information processing in early elementary school'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this