The Development of the Children’s Future Thinking Questionnaire: Establishing Validity and Reliability
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Future-oriented cognition, the ability to anticipate future states and needs (Bélanger, Atance, Varghese, Nguyen, & Vendetti, 2014), is a critical skill that children must develop for successful daily functioning. Research in the field of future-oriented cognition relies heavily on behavioural tasks to measure future-oriented abilities in young children, yet these tasks have several limitations such as low ecological validity and only providing information about the child on a single occasion and in one context (the laboratory). The current study sought to address the limitations of behavioural tasks by developing a parent-report questionnaire on children’s future- oriented cognition (saving, prospective memory, episodic future thinking, planning, and delay of gratification). The reliability and validity of the Children’s Future Thinking Questionnaire (CFTQ) were examined in three studies. In Study 1, the CFTQ was administered to parents online to test whether the newly developed measure was suitable for administration to parents and whether it detected age-related increases in children’s future-oriented cognition. Study 1 provided initial evidence for the reliability of the CFTQ and showed that parents could detect age-related increases in their children’s future-oriented abilities. Study 2 involved (a) administering the questionnaire to a larger sample of parents to further examine scale reliability (Study 2A) and (b) bringing a subset of these parents and their children into the laboratory to examine relations between CFTQ responses and children’s behavioural performance on future- oriented cognition tasks (i.e., validity; Study 2B). Results of Study 2A confirmed high internal consistency reliability of the CFTQ and provided further support for children’s age-related increases in future-oriented abilities. Study 2B showed some evidence for the validity of the CFTQ, suggesting that parents may be able to accurately report on their children’s future- oriented cognition in some domains. Overall, the CFTQ is a useful addition to the field of future-oriented cognition as the first parent-report measure to assess the development of future-oriented cognitive abilities.