Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bridgett, David J.

Degree Name

B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Current literature within the field of child cognitive development lacks the understanding of the effects of child sex on cognitive development. . It is previously known that children’s social and cognitive development can be affected, positively or negatively, by outside factors, such as low socioeconomic status, but additional factors need to be examined. This study aims to fill these gaps. This study examined the associations between early cognitive development, child sex, and contextual stress through use of data from an overarching longitudinal study. Mothers completed self-report paper questionnaires, gathering basic background information and levels of anxiety and depression, at 4 months postpartum and children completed several tasks to assess executive function, specifically inhibitory control, and cognition at 14 and 24 months postpartum. Two regression analyses were conducted, and mother’s symptoms of depression and anxiety were entered as covariates. Contrary to expectations, there were no significant associations to children’s general cognitive functioning at 14 months of age, which supports the notion that the effects of infant sex may not be observed at this early point in development. However, results indicated that more exposures to chronic stressors during early infancy was significantly associated with less inhibition in girls at 24 months of age, but not in boys. These results provide support for the vulnerability-vulnerability hypothesis. Findings from this study help to identify the timepoint in which such effects may start to emerge, further helping to bridge the gap in the literature.


19 pages




Northern Illinois University

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