Tsethlikai, M. (2010) The influence of a friend's perspective on American Indian children's recall of previously misconstrued events. Developmental Psychology.
American Indian children's ability to reframe their memory of a series of misconstrued events after hearing a friend's perspective was examined. The children (N = 99; ages 7- to 12- years old) heard the same first story portraying a friend as mean-spirited. In the second story, the friend explained that his/her behavior was motivated by good intentions (experimental condition) or they heard an unrelated story (control condition). Children in the control condition did not alter their recall. In the experimental condition, partial least squares modeling revealed socioeconomic status, age, fluid cognitive skills, verbal ability, and social competence directly and indirectly accounted for 54% of the variance in memory reframing. Cultural engagement accounted for 15.6% of the variance in social competence.
Tsethlikai, M. (2010). An exploratory analysis of American Indian children's cultural engagement, fluid cognitive skills, and standardized verbal IQ scores. Developmental Psychology.
This exploratory cross-sectional study examined fluid cognitive skills and standardized verbal IQ scores in relation to cultural engagement amongst Tohono O'odham children (N = 99; ages 7- to 12- years-old). Guardians with higher socioeconomic status engaged their children in more cultural activities, and participation in more cultural activities contributed to higher standardized verbal IQ scores. Mean cognitive skill scores varied as a function of age and TO language knowledge. Children who understood/spoke Tohono O'odham started out with lower average scores than children with no language knowledge, but mean scores generally increased in the older age groups such that they were equal to or higher than non-speakers by age 9. Children with higher fluid cognitive skill scores had higher standardized verbal IQ scores than children with lower scores.
TTsethlikai, M., & Rogoff, B. Socio-cultural aspects of memory: Comparing American Indian children's recall of a folk-tale when directed to listen and when allowed to overhear, but not told to listen. Manuscript submitted for review.
This study examined recall of an African folktale told to Tohono O'odham (TO) children among whom attention to surrounding events may be keen. In this context, we expected that story recall would vary as a function of cultural engagement and as a function of condition (directly addressed or allowed to overhear). Children (N = 91; ages 7 to 12 years) high in TO language knowledge and/or who reported traditional storytelling in their homes recalled more of the story regardless of condition. Children with high participation in cultural activities had significantly better recall than children with low participation in the overhearing condition. Participation in cultural activities had no effect on story recall for children who were told the story directly.
Honor's Thesis student paper: O'Connor, C., & Tsethlikai, M. Exploring possible interrelations among social knowledge complexity, social competence, and childhood depression. Manuscript in preparation.
A large literature on social information processing models link the development of social competence to latent knowledge structures that vary in complexity due to personal experience. However, research demonstrating that the development of social competence is directly related to children's memories of personal social experiences is missing. In this exploratory study, data were collected from 81 children (ages 7-12) with 47 generating personal memories of peer conflict. As prior research has postulated links between social knowledge complexity, social competence, and depression, we hypothesized that the complexity of social knowledge in children's personal recall would be related to their general social knowledge complexity which would then be linked to perceptions of their self-rated social competence and depressive symptoms. The results directly link children's representations of their personal experiences with peers to their general social knowledge complexity. Moreover, they demonstrate the importance of the development of children's social knowledge complexity as children with more complex representations of social behavior reported higher levels of social competence and fewer depressive symptoms than children with less complex representations.
Senior Thesis student paper: Tsethlikai, M., & Kalvesmaki, A. Children's social perspective taking ability in two American communities. Manuscript in preparation.
Nine- to 11- year old children from two diverse U. S. communities (Caucasian, n=32 and American Indian, n = 37) heard two stories involving mutual conflict between friends with the first story told from the participant's perspective and the second story told from the friend's perspective. Children from both groups followed similar trends with marked increases in level of perspective-taking ability and inclusion of words to describe the friend's emotions accompanied by a decrease in the number of words included to describe their own emotions after hearing Story 2. Children with higher levels of perspective taking ability recalled themselves as a victim in fewer events, and recalled the friend as a victim in more events than children with lower levels of perspective-taking ability. The American Indian children used more negative emotion words on average than the Caucasian children in their recall of both Story 1 and Story 2. Perspective-taking ability was only related to overall level of social competence in the American Indian community such that children with higher levels of perspective-taking ability had parents who rated them as having higher levels of social competence than children with lower levels of perspective-taking ability.
Tsethlikai, M., & Correa-Chavez, M., & Rogoff, B. Cultural components of American Indian children's attention, and learning through observation and participation.
This project examines children's learning through careful attention to the actions of others or in Barbara's words - learning through intent community participation
The role of cognitive control functions as self-regulatory mechanisms in children's memory of events involving conflict with friends.
New project, data collection in progress.
This study is concerned with the basic cognitive skills specified by Diamond et al. (2007) as the executive functions that are critical for success in life and school which she defined as inhibitory control (the ability to resist distractions and selectively attend to relevant information), working memory (the ability to hold information in mind and working with it), and mental flexibility (the ability to shift attention or adjust to change). Given that controlled attentional abilities and the resultant skills associated with executive functions play a role in the selection, coordination, and storage of information in memory (Bell & Deater-Deckard, 2007), it is likely that individual differences in executive functions will lead to differences in what children remember about the stories. Additionally, there is some evidence that how we remember events involving conflict or trauma is related to overall levels of well-being (Pennebaker, Mayne, & Francis, 1997; Petrie, Booth, & Pennebaker, 1998). Thus, an important, but often overlooked aspect of research on memory is to investigate not only what we remember about events, but also the potential functions differences in the content of what we remember about events might serve. In the current study we will examine if memory plays a role in well-being by examining relations among children's recall and indicators of social competence and depression. Status: 92 children have participated to date; our goal is to have 120 children participate.
American Indian and Alaska Native children's cognitive development in tribally controlled Head Start programs.
I started working with Michelle Sarche, who is the primary investigator and a faculty member at the University of Colorado, this summer. She has been kind enough to involve me on a continuing basis. Through this project, I have traveled to two AI reservations to administer cognitive tests of achievement to preschool children.