The Relationship Between Socio-Cognitive Environment and Executive Function among Selected American Adults

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Education and International Services


Educational Psychology MA

First Advisor

Nadia Nosworthy

Second Advisor

Karl Bailey

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai



The aim of this study was to create a meaningful model of executive function for adults and to gain an understanding of whether or not birth cohort impacts executive function. The model and knowledge about the relationship between birth cohort and executive function will better equip laymen, students, teachers, and other working professionals with powerful knowledge. The results of the current research have the potential to be shared in nonprofessional and professional settings to better the understanding of executive function and what one can do to improve their ability to function cognitively.


A survey (including the numerical Stroop task and a battery of questionnaires [the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire, Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale, Psychological Well-Being Scales, Subjective Happiness Scale, Fear of Missing Out Scale, Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale, Problematic Use of Mobile Phone scale]) was placed on Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Participants (N = 252) self-selected themselves to participate in the short task and questionnaires based on the $1.10 compensation they received upon completion. Fifty-three percent of participants were male, 47% were female, and the sample had a Mage of 37.9, with a standard deviation of 12.4 years.


A structural regression [χ2 = 66.519 (df = 22, p < .001), NFI = .969, IFI = .979, TLI = .966, CFI = .979, GFI = .945, RMSEA = .090 (CI90 = .006, .115) SRMR = .032] revealed good model fit indicating that the problematic use of mobile phones, purpose in life, personal relationships with others, the fear of missing out, stress, anxiety, and depression define one’s socio-cognitive environment which impacts level of executive function. Univariate ANOVA indicated that Millenials scored significantly (p≤ .01) higher in both numerical Stroop and cognitive failures.


The results in this study suggest that higher executive function is related to more positive socio-cognitive environments. The implications of these findings are that if one's socio-cognitive environment is altered (i.e., tragedy, intervention), their executive function will be altered as a result. Additionally, Millennials have lower levels of executive function than older adults, suggesting that executive function either increases with age in adulthood or something else (perhaps cell-phone use or motivation or any number of things) has negatively impacted executive function in the younger generation. Future research should investigate the age difference seen in executive function. It would be beneficial for future research to address whether or not the relationship between age and executive function is mediated by one or more of the socio-cognitive variables presented in the final SEM model. Furthermore, future research should investigate whether age plays a moderator role between one or more of the socio-cognitive variables presented in the final SEM model and executive function. While mediation and moderation effects were beyond the scope of the current study, it would be intriguing and useful to demonstrate how these variables relate to one another in future studies.

Subject Area

Cognition; Metacognition; Cognition in adolescence


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