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Preschoolers display surprising inflexibility in problem solving, but seem to approach new challenges with a fresh slate. We provide evidence that while the former is true the latter is not. Here, we examined whether brief exposure to stimuli can influence children’s problem solving following several weeks after first exposure to the stimuli. We administered a common executive function task, the Dimensional Change Card Sort, which requires children to sort picture cards by one dimension (e.g., color) and then switch to sort the same cards by a conflicting dimension (e.g., shape). After a week or after a month delay, we administered the second rule again. We found that 70% of preschoolers continued to sort by the initial sorting rule, even after a month delay, and even though they are explicitly told what to do. We discuss implications for theories of executive function development, and for classroom learning.





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Originally published in Frontiers in Psychology .

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