Early Child Research Quarterly paper:
The current study examined the effects of guilt on two aspects of children’s cognitive functioning: cognitive inhibition and flexibility. Three- to 5-year-olds were induced into a guilt state or a neutral state and then completed the Shape School task and the Dimensional Change Card Sort. Results indicated that 3- to 4.5-year-olds in the guilt condition had worse inhibitory control scores than those in the neutral condition; however, the two groups’ flexibility scores did not differ significantly. Further, the effect of guilt on cognitive inhibition was only evident for the younger children; no significant effects emerged for 4.5- to 5.9-year-olds. We discuss the implications of the current findings for developmental models of emotion and cognition.
Contact Janet Boseovski for an advance copy of the Child Development paper, which is not yet available online.