Individual differences in switching and inhibition predict perspective-taking across the lifespan

Madeleine Long, Willaim Horton, Hannah Rohde, Antonella Sorace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies exploring the influence of executive functions (EF) on perspective-taking have focused on inhibition and working memory in young adults or clinical populations. Less consideration has been given to more complex capacities that also involve switching attention between perspectives, or to changes in EF and concomitant effects on perspective-taking across the lifespan. To address this, we assessed whether individual differences in inhibition and attentional switching in healthy adults (ages 17-84) predict performance on a task in which speakers identified targets for a listener with size- contrasting competitors in common or privileged ground. Modification differences across conditions decreased with age. Further, perspective taking interacted with EF measures: youngest adults’ sensitivity to perspective was best captured by their inhibitory performance; oldest adults’ sensitivity was best captured by switching performance. Perspective-taking likely involves multiple aspects of EF, as revealed by considering a wider range of EF tasks and individual capacities across the lifespan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-30
Early online date19 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • individual differences
  • perspective taking
  • executive functions
  • switching
  • inhibition
  • ageing


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