Interlinking Developmental Domains: Low Motor Skills in Typically Developing Children are Related to Intelligence, Executive Functions, and Behavior

Klupp, Stephanie. Interlinking Developmental Domains: Low Motor Skills in Typically Developing Children are Related to Intelligence, Executive Functions, and Behavior. 2022, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Psychology.

Available under License CC BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial).


Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/92895/

Downloads: Statistics Overview


Children develop rapidly over their first decade of life across the three main domains of motor, cognitive, and social-emotional development. The interlink between children’s developmental domains is considered as important for children to develop as a whole. Developmental theories support the notion that motor, cognitive, and social-emotional development are each bidirectionally related. Furthermore, changes through movement in relations to individuals and objects enables interactions which facilitates development. With focus on motor development, children and adolescents often do not reach the recommended amount of daily physical activity. Consequently, restrictions in motor skills may in turn hinder engagements with the environment and social interactions with individuals, which therefore reduce learning opportunities in addition to impacting other developmental processes.
To increase the in-depth understanding of these relations, the aim of the current dissertation is to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of how the development of children in one developmental domain (i.e., motor) relates to their development in the other domains (i.e., cognitive and social-emotional). For this, three studies were conducted assessing standardized test batteries in typically developing children between the ages of 7 to 13 years. The associations between (1) fine motor skills and intelligence, (2) motor skills as well as aerobic fitness and executive functions, and (3) gait and social-emotional behavior were analyzed. Furthermore, the overarching focus was to highlight the dimensional perspective of children who fall within the low end of the typically developing motor ability range, as this dissertation is relevant for considerations in future interventions.
To investigate interlinks between developmental domains, hierarchical regressions were conducted in studies 1 and 2 and a multilevel modeling approach was used in study 3. Results of study 1 demonstrated that lower performances in fine motor skills are associated with lower scores in full-scale IQ, perceptual reasoning, and processing speed. Study 2 revealed that lower fine motor skills and lower aerobic fitness were significantly related to lower scores in switching and updating. Furthermore, it was shown that fine motor skills explained additional variance in executive functions above and beyond aerobic fitness. Lastly, study 3 indicated that children with a higher variability in stride length as well as stride velocity showed significantly less prosocial behavior, had more emotional symptoms and demonstrated less risk-taking behavior.
In summary, this cumulative dissertation offers new insights on a differentiated view of the interlink between fine and gross motor skills and their associations to intelligence, executive functions and behavior in typically developing children. In addition, this dissertation connects multiple studies for an overarching view of the three core domains of child development. The outlook highlights the theoretical and practical value of physical education in school and after school activities which should be preserved and supported. Lastly, the results suggest that typically developing children with low motor skills will not likely outgrow their deficits but are in need of support in the future.
Advisors:Grob, Alexander and Lemola, Sakari
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Society & Choice > Entwicklungs- und Persönlichkeitspsychologie (Grob)
UniBasel Contributors:Klupp, Stephanie and Grob, Alexander and Lemola, Sakari
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:14944
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:107
Identification Number:
  • urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-bau-diss149445
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:15 Mar 2023 15:31
Deposited On:09 Mar 2023 10:34

Repository Staff Only: item control page