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Willing to think hard? The subjective value of cognitive effort in children

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    Rights statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Chevalier, N. (2017), Willing to Think Hard? The Subjective Value of Cognitive Effort in Children. Child Dev., which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cdev.12805/full. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

    Accepted author manuscript, 738 KB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalChild Development
Early online date11 Apr 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Apr 2017


Cognitive effort is costly and this cost likely influences the activities that children engage in. Yet, little is known about how school-age children perceive cognitive effort. The subjective value of cognitive effort, that is, how valuable or costly effort is perceived, was investigated in 73 7- to 12-year-olds using an effort-discounting paradigm. In two studies, it varied with task difficulty but not age, was predicted by actual effort engagement but not actual success, and related to trait interest in effortful activities and proactive control engagement. Children are sensitive to cognitive effort and use it to guide behaviors, suggesting that poor performance may often reflect reluctance to engage cognitive effort rather than low ability.

    Research areas

  • cognitive effort, need for cognition, cognitive control, executive function, children

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