The Possibility of Using Role-Play to Train Executive Functions in Preschoolers



In modern pre-school education, more and more time is devoted to educational activities, while kindergarten children have very little time to play. However, play activity is extremely important for the development of inhibition in preschoolers. The article presents results of a study on the relationship between the child's acceptance of different roles (positive, wise or negative hero) and the success of executive function tasks implementation (cognitive flexibility and self-restraint). The study involved 81 children aged 5—6 years of Moscow kindergartens. Assessment of the level of executive functions development was carried out three times: pre-test (without a role), test (task execution in a role), post-test (without a role) using the same complex of methods. Based on the results of the pre-test, preschoolers were divided into 4 groups (3 experimental and one control). Ekvivalent groups formation was carried out basing on the actual level of executive functions development (low and high level) and on the number of boys and girls included in each of the groups. The study showed that the adoption of the role can have both positive and negative impacts on the success of executive function tasks implementation, depending on the type of task and the level of inhibition in preschoolers. The roles of the positive and wise characters had a positive effect in all three tasks, and the role of the negative character had of positive effect only in the tasks on behavioral and cognitive restraining control (in the task on cognitive flexibility it had a negative effect). In addition, role-taking in children with low levels of executive functions interfered with the behavioral control task, whereas in the cognitive control task, role-taking contributed to improved outcomes. Thus, accepting a role can help a preschooler to regulate their behavior, which confirms the role of play as the leading activity in preschool age.

General Information

Keywords: preschool age, play, executive functions

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. This work was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project № 18-013-01057 «Play activity and its relationship with executive functions in preschool age»).

For citation: Veraksa A.N., Almazova O.V., Bukhalenkova D.A., Gavrilova M.N. The Possibility of Using Role-Play to Train Executive Functions in Preschoolers. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2020. Vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 111–121. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2020160111. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Aleksandr N. Veraksa, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Head of the Department of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Vice-Director of Psychological Institute, Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Olga V. Almazova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Developmental Psychology Department, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Daria A. Bukhalenkova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Researcher, Laboratory of Child Psychology and Digital Socialization, Psychological Institute of Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Margarita N. Gavrilova, PhD in Psychology, Junior Researcher of the Department of Psychology of Education and Pedagogy of the Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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