Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Intelligence has been shown to correlate with reaction time and memory capacity in adults. Research with adults has demonstrated that individuals who score higher on psychometric measures of intelligence also tend to have faster, less variable reaction times and longer short-term, or working, memory spans. Research with youths suggests that similar relationships may also be present in children; however, research to date has not studied these relationships in young children. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the results previously found in adults, demonstrating a relationship between intellectual ability, speed of information processing and memory capacity, could also be found in young children. A sample of 109 children ages 4 years, 0 months to 6 years, 12 months (M = 5.56, SD =.84) were tested with a battery of computer administered reaction time tests, a battery of computer administered memory tests, and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised (WPPSI-R). As expected, results revealed distinct developmental trends in processing speed and memory capacity; processing speed increases with increasing age, as does memory span. The factor structure of each of the three test batteries was found to be similar to the factor structure typically found for comparable batteries administered to adults, revealing evidence of a general factor in each battery. However, the relationships between the general intelligence, general reaction time and general memory factors in children are not comparable to those found in adults. A significant relationship between general intelligence and general memory was found in children; however, the relationship between general intelligence and general reaction time was found to be weak. These findings suggest that children's intelligence can not be explained using a model of adult intelligence. It would appear that processing speed is not as relevant to the intellectual ability of children as it is to the intellectual ability of adults. Alternatively, memory capacity appears to be equally important, perhaps even more important, to the intelligence of children as to the intelligence of adults.



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