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Title: Associations between maternal executive function, parenting, and preschool children's executive function in the Korean context
Author: Lee, Min Kyung
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 5319
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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The study reported in this dissertation aimed at exploring relations between parental factors - parenting and maternal executive function (EF) - and preschool children's EF in the South Korean context (the Republic of Korea; Korea hereafter). Specifically, it investigated the replication in the Korean context of existing findings in Western cultures on the link between parenting and child EF. In addition, the present study explored parental aspects that have rarely been linked to child EF: 1) the relation of parental verbal input to child EF, 2) simultaneous relations of parenting and maternal EF to child EF, and 3) mediating roles played by parenting in the maternal EF-child EF link. Ten kindergartens located in different districts (middle- to upper-middle class households) in Seoul, Korea hosted the present study, and data were collected from a total of 92 mother-child dyads who volunteered to take part. The children were aged between 3 and 5 years, with 97 per cent of them being 4 years old, and they were reported not to have experienced developmental issues. The mothers were biological parents of child participants. Both the mothers and children performed on age-appropriate EF tasks. Three types of parenting dimensions were focused on in two contexts of mother-child interactions: maternal contingency and intrusiveness in a problem-solving context and maternal verbal input during a mother-child reminiscing conversation. Maternal verbal input was operationalized to consist of four constructs: maternal elaboration, semantic connection (maternal utterances that are semantically connected with the child's utterances), maternal mental-state references, and connected mental-state references (maternal mental-state references that are semantically connected with the child's utterances). As such, a total of 14 maternal traits during the two mother-child interactions were examined for their relations to the development of child EF. Mother-child interactions were videotaped for later analysis. As a result, 184 five-minute video clips were obtained and analysed by adopting a quantitative approach. Results showed that the positive relation between maternal contingency and child EF was successfully replicated in the Korean context. In addition, maternal connected mental-state references, particularly emotion references, were found as a significant factor explaining child EF, above and beyond three covariates of child EF (child age, child verbal ability and maternal educational attainment). However, maternal intrusiveness was found not to be significantly related to child EF in the Korean context. Next, the analysis of the simultaneous relations of maternal factors to child EF showed that maternal contingency accounted for unique variance in child EF more than any other parenting variables involved in the present study. In addition to maternal contingency, maternal EF (i.e., maternal shifting as measured by the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task) and maternal connected mental-state references were found to significantly account for unique variance in child EF. Finally, it was found that the maternal EF-child EF link was not explained by parenting behaviours explored in the present study. Instead, maternal contingency was found to mediate the link between child verbal ability and child EF and the link between maternal educational attainment and child EF. While the above mentioned results were the main findings of the present study, the difference in the results should be addressed between when using the whole sample (N=92 dyads) and only 4-year-olds (N=89 dyads). Child's age was found to account for less unique variance in child EF when using only 4-year-olds. In addition, the significant link between maternal EF and child EF when using the data from the whole sample became insignificant when using the data from only 4-year-olds. These findings are discussed in terms of universal or culture-specific links between maternal EF, parenting behaviours and child EF, adding to the literature by presenting the first empirical evidence on this research field in a non-Western context.
Supervisor: Baker, Sara ; Whitebread, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: executive function ; parenting ; South Korea