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An assessment of the effects of SES on the development of executive attention in Singapore: Early English–Malay bilinguals*



Thirty-four English–Malay bilinguals of between four and six years of age (both balanced and dominant) characterized as low socioeconomic status (SES) on income and parental education were tested on the child-Attentional Network Task (child-ANT; Rueda, Fan, McCandliss, Halparin, Gruber, Lercari & Posner, 2004) measuring executive attention. Although SES measures fell below the Singapore median, Malay children's performance on the child-ANT remained high when compared to other age-matched monolingual and bilingual children previously tested with the child-ANT (Yang, Yang & Lust, 2011), and English–Chinese Singaporean bilinguals (Kang, 2009). None of the three SES measures – father's and mother's education, and income, significantly correlated with child-ANT components. Regression analyses confirmed that none of the SES measures significantly predicted performance on the child-ANT. Caregiver reports suggested that both balanced and dominant bilinguals displayed high executive control. We consider the possibility that cultural variations – simultaneous and pervasiveness of bilingualism in Singapore, or pervasive code-switching – may ameliorate potential negative effects of SES on executive control development.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Carissa Kang, Department of Human Development, Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA


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We thank Yang Hwajin at the Singapore Management University for providing us with research assistants and guidance for this project, as well as Celestine Tan and Zhi Ting Chow from Singapore Management University for their assistance with data collection in Singapore. We also thank Yang Sujin, who developed the research paradigm focusing on the cognitive advantages of bilingualism using the child-Attention Network Task. We thank Qi Wang for insightful direction on cross-cultural study of SES. Finally, we would like to thank the reviewers for their detailed comments and suggestions for the manuscript.



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An assessment of the effects of SES on the development of executive attention in Singapore: Early English–Malay bilinguals*



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