The development of divergent thinking despite poverty: Moderating factors
Poverty undeniably negatively impacts cognitive development, yet effects vary across children as a function of associated risk factors. Indeed, adverse childhood experiences may influence development in both risk and promotive ways. For example, unpredictability (i.e., variability of stressors and living conditions) may promote children's divergent thinking by providing opportunities to develop cognitive flexibility. This longitudinal study of 250 children (50% female, 46% Latinx) evaluated relations between poverty from birth to age 4 and children's divergent thinking at age 8 as moderated by residential mobility and gender. The results revealed stark gender differences. Boys followed a traditional cumulative risk model wherein residential mobility exacerbated negative effects of poverty on divergent thinking. However, for girls, poverty was not associated with worse divergent thinking at higher levels of residential mobility, demonstrating its protective role. These findings highlight the need for nuanced models of early childhood risk to clarify individual differences in cognitive development.
Berzenski, Sara R.; LaSalle-Castro, Ryan; Marcelo, Ana Kamille; and Yates, Tuppett M., "The development of divergent thinking despite poverty: Moderating factors" (2022). Psychology. 530.