Socioeconomic status and parenting-related differences in preschoolers' working memory


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The relations between socioeconomic status (SES), parenting-related factors, and children's cognitive ability are well-documented. However, limited research has investigated whether there are interactions between SES and parenting-related factors in their association with children's cognitive performance. In this study, we used an extensive battery of SES and parenting-related measures to examine their association with kindergarten children's working memory (WM). Children (N = 190) were recruited from five kindergartens in Bangkok, Thailand, and were administered three WM tasks. Caregivers completed a questionnaire on their SES, parenting stress, parenting behaviours, and provision of cognitive stimulation. Multiple-indicators-multiple-causes models revealed that income and cognitive stimulation were unique explanatory variables for WM and had greater explanatory power than other SES and parenting-related factors. Several SES indicators interacted with parenting-related factors. Specifically, a negative association between permissive parenting and WM and a positive association between cognitive stimulation and WM were found only among families whose mothers were less educated and among those with less prestigious occupations, respectively. A negative association between parenting stress and WM was found only among the highest-income families and among those with highly educated mothers. These findings underscore the importance of considering the interactive roles of both SES and parenting-related factors on children's cognitive capabilities. These findings provide information on the families that WM interventions should best target. Educational relevance statement: This study highlights the importance of understanding the interplay between family socioeconomic status (SES) and parenting-related factors on kindergarten children's working memory in Thailand. The findings showed that parenting-related variables do not have uniform relations with WM but vary depending on socioeconomic status. Specifically, permissive parenting and cognitive stimulation were only related to WM when mothers were less educated or had less prestigious occupational status. In contrast, parenting stress was associated with WM only among families with the highest income and whose mothers were the most educated. The results suggest that interventions should be customized according to these SES and parenting variables. Less educated parents may benefit from guidance on setting appropriate boundaries, while affluent, highly educated parents may require support in stress management. Copyright © 2023 The Authors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102406
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Early online dateDec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


Gao, X., Lee, K., & Permpoonputtana, K. (2024). Socioeconomic status and parenting-related differences in preschoolers' working memory. Learning and Individual Differences, 109, Article 102406.


  • Socioeconomic status
  • Parenting stress
  • Parenting behaviour
  • Cognitive stimulation
  • Working memory
  • Thailand


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