Lison Bouhours



Ph.D student

Paris Descartes University

The influence of the social context on inhibitory control abilities and creativity during the development

Supervised by Mathieu Cassotti & Wim de Neys


To understand the specificity of adolescents, the dual systems model posits an imbalance between the relative maturity of the brain structures in charge of incentive-based behaviors and the relative immaturity of the brain structures underlying executive control during adolescence. Considerable efforts have been devoted to identifying the influence of social contexts (e.g., effect of the presence of peers or adults) in the domains of reasoning and decision making. However, there are to date few study that have examined whether social contexts may facilitate (or constrain) inhibitory control and creative ideation and whether the effect of social contexts on these processes changes with age. The later appears to be particularly important given that social evaluation influences adults' ability to inhibit irrelevant, but prepotent, strategies. The aims of the present thesis were 1) to examine whether in hot, (i.e., affectively charged contexts), or cool, (i.e., affectively neutral contexts), inhibitory control abilities increase or decrease under social evaluation in adolescents and adults, 2) to study how social context may influence creative idea generation in children, adolescents and adults, and 3) to assess the effect of new forms of pedagogical intervention aiming at developing children's creativity at school. Findings of the Studies 1 and 2 revealed that social evaluation facilitated hot but not cool inhibitory control abilities among adolescents, but that it had no significant effect on young adults. These present findings expand our understanding of the favorable influence of the socio-emotional context on hot inhibitory control during adolescence. Furthermore, results of the Study 3 showed that the social evaluation has an opposite impact in children and adolescents. Indeed, the presence of an adult evaluator stimulated creativity in adolescents, whereas such social evaluation decreased creative ideation in children. In a fourth study, we also provided evidence that a new pedagogical intervention, specifically designed to overcome both social and cognitive biases during creative ideation, can stimulate children's creativity in the classroom. Taken together, these results have important implications not only for fundamental research but also for education.

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Bouhours, L., Camarda, A., Ernst, M., Osmont, A., Borst, G., & Cassotti, M. (2021). How does social evaluation influence Hot and Cool inhibitory control in adolescence? Plos one, 16(9), e0257753.

Camarda, A., Bouhours, L., Osmont, A., Le Masson, P., Weil, B., Borst, G., & Cassotti, M. (2021). Opposite effect of social evaluation on creative idea generation in early and middle adolescents. Creativity Research Journal, 1-12.

Bouhours, L. (2018) L'influence du contexte social sur le contrôle inhibiteur et la créativité au cours du développement. [Doctoral dissertation, Université Paris Descartes]

Osmont, A., Moutier, S., Simon, G., Bouhours, L., Houdé, O., Cassotti, M. (2017). How Does Explicit Versus Implicit Risk Information Influence Adolescent Risk‐Taking Engagement?. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 30(5), 1093-1103.