Developing A Cognitive Reflection Test for School-Age Children

AbstractThe cognitive reflection test (CRT; Frederick, 2005) assesses how well adults can reflect on the validity of their own thinking, and it has been shown to predict several measures of normative reasoning. Here, we sought to create a version of the cognitive reflection test suitable for elementary-school-aged children, which could be used to study the emergence of cognitive reflection as well as its role in the development of other forms of higher-order cognition. We identified eight child-friendly questions that elicit an incorrect, intuitive response that must be inhibited in order to provide a correct, analytic response. We compared children’s and adults’ performance on these questions (dubbed the CRT-D) to several measures of rational thinking (denominator neglect, base rate sensitivity, syllogistic reasoning, otherside thinking) and thinking dispositions (actively open-minded thinking, need for cognition). The CRT-D was a significant predictor of rational thinking and normative thinking dispositions in both children and adults. Moreover, performance on the CRT-D correlated with performance on the original CRT in adults, and in children, it predicted rational thinking and normative thinking dispositions above and beyond age. These results suggest that the CRT-D is a valid measure of children’s cognitive reflection and pave the way for future investigations of its development and its developmental consequences.

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