Executive functioning moderates associations between shyness and pragmatic abilities
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While elevated shyness is associated with weaker pragmatic language abilities for some children, not all shy children demonstrate pragmatic challenges. Understanding the factors that may account for this variability is important as proficient pragmatic abilities have been found to protect shy children from subsequent socio-emotional maladjustment (Coplan & Weeks, 2009). Individual differences in cognitive processes may account for why some shy children evidence difficulty in pragmatic abilities whereas others do not. In the current study, associations between shyness, executive functioning (performance-based and parent-reported), and pragmatic abilities (knowledge and demonstrated abilities) were examined in a community sample of 8 to 12-year-old children (N = 81). Consistent with past work, shyness was associated with weaker pragmatic knowledge. However, parent-reported executive functioning moderated associations between shyness and both pragmatic knowledge and demonstrated pragmatic abilities in everyday activities. Only those shy children with weaker parent-reported executive functioning showed difficulties in their pragmatic abilities. That is, strength in applying executive functioning in everyday settings (or less executive dysfunction) seems to buffer shy children from pragmatic challenges. We discuss our results in terms of the way children acquire pragmatic competence and the temperamental and cognitive factors that may affect such development.
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Elizabeth S. Nilsen, Janel Silva, Tara McAuley, Shanan Floto (2020). Executive functioning moderates associations between shyness and pragmatic abilities. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17468