Projects and Estimated Results


School age:

The present study* aimed  to investigate the relationships between different aspects of cognitive development in school-age children (6-to-10-year-olds) characterized by significant progress at a number of levels. The research implies a series of psychological tasks for the children and a series of questionnaires for the parents and teachers.

The children were tested individually, in two distinct sessions, in a classrom at their school. Each session lasted aproximately one hour. The tasks were presented as games to the children, some being computerized and some not. For the computer trials, the child was placed in front of a screen on which different stimuli  were presented; he or she responded either by pressing a key or by touching the screen (a touchscreen display was used).

In order to measure the child’s cognitive abilities, we used the following tasks:

      • The cognitive reasoning component from WISC IV (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children; Wechsler, 2003), which measures cognitive reasoning abilities.

      • The understanding component from WISC IV (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children; Wechsler, 2003), which measures verbal understanding abilities.

      • Forward Digit Span for short-term memory.

      • Backward Digit Span for working memory.

      • The Non-Word Recognition task (after the Word Recognition task from the Automated Working Memory Assessment, AWMA, Alloway, 2007) for short-term memory.

      • The Inhibition task from NEPSY (Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment; Korkman, Kirk, & Kemp, 1998), which measures response inhibition abilities.

      • The Shifting task from NEPSY (Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment; Korkman, Kirk, & Kemp, 1998), which measures set shifting abilities.

      • The Motor Screening test (MOT) from CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery), which is an accommodation task that screens for difficulties with vision, movement and understanding.

      • The Simple Reaction Time test (SRT) from CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery), which measures reaction time.

      • Pattern Recognition Memory (PRM) from CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery), which measures pattern recognition abilities.

      • Spatial Working Memory (SWM) from CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery), which measures spatial working memory.

      • Test of Emotion Comprehension (TEC; Pons & Harris, 2000) for measuring emotion understanding abilities.

For the evaluation of affective and behavioral problems, we used the following questionnaires, which were filled in by the parents:

      • BASC (Behavior Assessment System for Children –second version; Reynolds & Kamphaus 2004), for affective problems.

      • RCADS-P (Revised Child anxiety and Depression Scale – Parent version; Chorpita et al., 2000), for behavioral problems.

 *This is a follow up of Laura Visu-Petra, Ovidiu Jurje, Oana Ciornei & George Visu-Petra (2016). Can you Keep a Secret? Introducing the RT-based Concealed Information Test to Children. Psychology, Crime & Law, 22(3), 276-301. DOI: 10.1080/1068316X.2015.1109085

Preschool:

Cognitive and socio-emotional development in preschoolers

     The present study* investigated the relationship between cognitive development (attentional flexibility, memory, inhibition), the ability to hide certain pieces of information and emotional development (internalizing and externalizing problems).

     The psychological tasks were applied in 3 distinct stages (longitudinal study) at aproximately 6 months appart in the Developmental Psychology Laboratory and the results are compared with the ones obtained in the previous research.

The applied tasks were meant to monitor:

      • the understanding and recognition of ones own emotions and the emotions of others; also, the ability to surpass his or her own perspecive and adopt the perspectives of other people (theory of mind).
      • the ability to hide certain pieces of information in favor of a social convenience – task inspired from the temptation resistance paradigm. 
      • the ability to inhibit automatic reactions, cognitive control through attentional flexibility and the ability to inhibit reactions  to certain stimuli.
      • working memory, the ability to retain series of words and repeat them in the same order they were presented.

*Visu-Petra, L., Jurje, O., & Fizeșan, C. (2014). Deceptive behavior in young children confronted with physical evidence of their transgressions: Links with executive functioning and internalizing or externalizing symptoms. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 140, 599-604. Full text here.


The main purpose of our project was to longitudinally assess young children's ability to conceal incriminating information in relation to their socio-cognitive development and to their internalizing/externalizing behaviors.

Primarily, we investigated the development of deceptive skills in young children and how this relates to their executive functioning and theory of mind. Based on previous results* and preliminary data collected so far, we conclude that our innovative deception task (the RT-based CIT) was relatively efficient in detecting deceptive responses.

Additionally, we estimated that children with higher reaction time and better abilities to inhibit certain information and shift to a different response would present increased deceptive skills as wellBetter understanding of other people’s beliefs (ToM) should also be predictive of children’s deceptive behavior. We also expected that developmental improvements in theory of mind and executive functioning to further influence children’s lie-telling behavior.

Furthermore, we were also looking into young children’s deceptive behavior in connection with their internalizing/externalizing symptoms and socio-emotional competences. As such, we expected children with increased levels of internalizing behaviors (anxiety, depression) to have poorer abilities of concealing incriminating information, whereas children displaying elevated externalizing problems (conduct problems, aggression) should have more accurate deceptive responses. Lastly, from an exploratory standpoint, we predicted that social skills and emotional abilities will be specifically related to truth and lie-telling behaviors.

Estimated results

Firstly, we aim to reveal the first wave of longitudinal results by publishing them in a paper appearing in a Web of Science indexed (ISI) Journal (Psychology, Crime and Law), followed by other studies derived from the upcoming data collection.

We are also planning on extensively disseminating our results by preparing a book on children’s deceptive behavior, which will review current literature and integrate our conclusions, discussing their specific applicability to the Romanian educational and judicial context.

Lastly, we wish to organize an international workshop, creating a specific context to disseminate our results among other experts in the field as well as teachers and practitioners, in order to encourage further research and discuss the applied implications of these findings.

*Results presented in Laura Visu-Petra, Ovidiu Jurje, Oana Ciornei & George Visu-Petra (2016). Can you Keep a Secret? Introducing the RT-based Concealed Information Test to Children. Psychology, Crime & Law, 22(3), 276-301. DOI: 10.1080/1068316X.2015.1109085


 Collateral projects