Explaining the Ability to Learn Analogies: The Role of Executive Functions and Fluid Intelligence


It is well established that analogical reasoning can be explained by the efficiency of working memory (WM) but it remains unclear what processes are involved when the child learns to reason analogically. The present study examined the relationship of executive functions (EF) and fluid intelligence (gF) and the ability to learn analogies in a sample of 210 10-year-old children. First, with regard to the structure of EF, a four-factor model fitted the data well, however, shifting and fluency were indistinguishable from attentional control. At the same time, attentional control fully accounted for the interrelationships between other EF. Second, only WM proved to have a direct effect on the ability to learn and on gF, while mediating the effect of attentional control. Third, despite a decent explanatory power of WM, it did not explain the relationship between the ability to learn and gF, indicating the presence of another factor distinct from WM.

Studia psychologica, 58(4), 322–335. doi:10.21909/sp.2016.04.726