Cognitive Differences Between Monolingual and Bilingual Preschoolers in Theory of Mind and Executive Function

Open Access
Author:
Verlinich, Alyssa Marie
Area of Honors:
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Carol Anne Miller, Thesis Supervisor
  • Carol Anne Miller, Honors Advisor
  • Krista M Wilkinson, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • theory of mind
  • executive function
  • preschool
  • bilingual
  • language
Abstract:
Research has suggested that bilingual children are more advanced than their monolingual peers in specific areas, including theory of mind and executive function. This study examines theory of mind, executive function and language skills of preschool-aged children who were placed into three groups: monolingual English speakers, monolingual Mandarin speakers and children who are proficient in each language. Data was obtained for 30 monolingual English speakers, 20 monolingual Mandarin speakers and 5 bilingual children. While previous research has suggested that there is a bilingual advantage, the current study did not yield results to support this claim. The English and Mandarin-speaking children achieved higher scores than their bilingual peers on various tasks, including those testing theory of mind, inhibition and working memory. There was also no clear association between theory of mind and executive function in the bilingual population, though this may be due to the small number of participants. Multiple suggestions for future studies are presented.