Bilingualism and flexibility in task switching – a close replication study

Rebecca Ward, Justin Awani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to conduct a close replication of Wiseheart et al., (2016) by investigating the transferability of language-switching skills to non-linguistic task switching. Current evidence is mixed and there is a need to conduct robust replications in this area. Bilingual (n = 31) and monolingual (n = 47) young adults characterised stimuli by either colour or shape, based on a given cue. Modifications include online data collection (as opposed to in-person) and adapting the non-verbal intelligence test used. All other aspects of the study mirror those by Wiseheart and colleagues. Results indicate that the bilinguals exhibited better cognitive flexibility in task switching as evidenced by a reduced global switch cost compared to monolinguals, while mixed evidence was found for local switch cost. Findings mirror those reported by Wiseheart et al. and suggest that by employing comparable task-switch paradigms and recruiting samples matched on several key variables including age, gender, variety of languages spoken and use of English, bilingualism does seem to confer broader executive function advantages. Findings are discussed in relation to theoretical implications, with the aim of informing future replication studies and advancing the bilingual advantage in task switching debate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Second Language Acquisition
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


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