Individual differences in switching and inhibition predict perspective-taking across the lifespan

Madeleine R. Long*, William S. Horton, Hannah Rohde, Antonella Sorace

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Studies exploring the influence of executive functions (EF) on perspective-taking have focused on inhibition and working memory in young adults or clinical populations. Less consideration has been given to more complex capacities that also involve switching attention between perspectives, or to changes in EF and concomitant effects on perspective-taking across the lifespan. To address this, we assessed whether individual differences in inhibition and attentional switching in healthy adults (ages 17–84) predict performance on a task in which speakers identified targets for a listener with size-contrasting competitors in common or privileged ground. Modification differences across conditions decreased with age. Further, perspective taking interacted with EF measures: youngest adults’ sensitivity to perspective was best captured by their inhibitory performance; oldest adults’ sensitivity was best captured by switching performance. Perspective-taking likely involves multiple aspects of EF, as revealed by considering a wider range of EF tasks and individual capacities across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-30
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Ageing
  • Executive functions
  • Individual differences
  • Inhibition
  • Perspective taking
  • Switching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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