To understand how distraction influences children’s arithmetic performance, we examined effects of irrelevant sounds on children’s performance while they solve arithmetic problems. Third and fifth graders were asked to verify true/false, one-digit addition problems (e.g., 9 + 4 = 12. True? False?) under silence and sound conditions. The sounds began when the problems started to appear on the screen (Experiment 1; N = 76) or slightly after (Experiment 2; N = 92) and continued until participants responded. The results showed that (a) children solved arithmetic problems more quickly in the sound condition than in the silence condition when the sounds started with problem display (phasic arousal effects); (b) children were slower on the arithmetic problem verification task when the sounds was played slightly after the problems started to appear on the screen (distraction effects); (c) phasic arousal effects were found only in third graders, whereas distraction effects were found in both grades, although their magnitudes were smaller in fifth graders; (d) distraction effects increased with increasing latencies in third graders but did not change across the entire latency distribution in fifth graders; and (e) distraction effects on current trials were smaller after sound trials than after silence trials in both age groups (sequential modulations of distraction effects). These findings have important implications for furthering our understanding of effects of irrelevant sounds on arithmetic performance as well as cognitive processes involved in children’s arithmetic. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
CitationLemaire, P., & Lee, K. (2023). How do distracting events influence children’s arithmetic performance? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 225. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2022.105531
- Arithmetic development
- Sequential modulations