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Centre for Family Research



I obtained my undergraduate degree in Psychology with Highest Honours from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Prior to coming to Cambridge, I pursued my Master's degree in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard University.


I am currently a PhD candidate supervised by Professor Claire Hughes. The key question motivating my research is how culture and important social contexts (e.g., parents, peers and schools) interact to impact children's cognitive and social development. My PhD examines cross-cultural contrasts in the development of executive function (EF) in late childhood and explores the influences of proximal and distal family factors on children's EF and academic ability.


Key publications: 


Xu, C., Ellefson, M. R., Ng, F. F., Wang, Q., & Hughes, C. (2020). An East-West contrast in executive function: Measurement invariance of computerized tasks in school-aged children and adolescents. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 199, 104929.


Xu, C., Ellefson, M. R., & Hughes, C. (2019, September). Understanding pathways linking parenting to children’s academic ability: A cross-cultural study. Paper presented at the BPS Cognitive Psychology Section & Developmental Section Joint Conference, Stoke-on-Trent.

Xu, C., Ellefson, M. R., & Hughes, C. (2019, March). The validity of applying a computerised battery of executive function tasks in different languages with different cultures. Poster presented at the SRCD Biennial Meeting, Baltimore, MD.

Xu, C., Ellefson, M. R., & Hughes, C. (2018, April). Age-related changes in children’s executive function across cultures. Poster presented at the SRA Biennial Meeting, Minneapolis, MN.

Xu, C., Ellefson, M. R., & Hughes, C. (2017, September). Development of executive function in preadolescence: a cross-cultural analysis of samples from Mainland China, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. Poster presented at the BPS Developmental Section Annual Conference, Stratford-upon-Avon.

PhD student

Contact Details

(+44) 01223 334526
Not available for consultancy


Person keywords: 
child development
social cognition
executive function