The Role of Cognitive Development and Strategic Task Tendencies in the Bilingual Advantage Controversy.

Esli Struys, Wouter Duyck, Evy Woumans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Recent meta-analyses have indicated that the bilingual advantage in cognitive control
is not clear-cut. So far, the literature has mainly focussed on behavioral differences and
potential differences in strategic task tendencies between monolinguals and bilinguals
have been left unexplored. In the present study, two groups of younger and older
bilingual Dutch–French children were compared to monolingual controls on a Simon
and flanker task. Beside the classical between-group comparison, we also investigated
potential differences in strategy choices as indexed by the speed-accuracy trade-off.
Whereas we did not find any evidence for an advantage for bilingual over monolingual
children, only the bilinguals showed a significant speed-accuracy trade-off across tasks
and age groups. Furthermore, in the younger bilingual group, the trade-off effect
was only found in the Simon and not the flanker task. These findings suggest that
differences in strategy choices can mask variations in performance between bilinguals
and monolinguals, and therefore also provide inconsistent findings on the bilingual
cognitive control advantage.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1790
Pages (from-to)1790
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberSEP
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2018


  • Bilingualism
  • Choice strategy
  • Cognitive control
  • Inhibition
  • Speed-accuracy trade-off


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