Children’s Divergent Thinking and Bilingualism

Sophie Booton, Elena Hoicka, Aneym O'Grady, Hiu Ying Nicole Chan, Victoria Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Most children in the world grow up bilingual, and bilingualism has been linked to a range of both linguistic and other cognitive skills. One such skill is creativity, which is thought could be increased in bilinguals due to enhanced executive functions or more diverse cultural experiences. However, extant literature with children has produced mixed results, perhaps due to methodological limitations. In this study, bilingual and monolingual children (N = 111, 60% bilingual) sampled from the same British schools completed three measures of divergent thinking, alongside measures of nonverbal intelligence, vocabulary, and exposure to English. No differences were found between monolingual and bilingual children across any of the divergent thinking tasks or measures, either before or after controlling for possible confounds, and effect sizes were negligible to small. This well-powered, pre-registered study provides no evidence for a bilingual advantage in the divergent thinking component of creativity amongst children, suggesting that previous mixed results may have been due to a high prevalence of false positives. Thus, while bilingualism has many benefits for children, divergent thinking is not one of them.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThinking Skills and Creativity
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Aug 2021

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