The focus of this study was the developmental pattern of the ability to shift attention between global and local levels of hierarchical stimuli. Children aged 7 years and 11 years and 21-year-old adults were administered a task (two experiments) that allowed for the examination of 1) the direction of attention to global or local stimulus levels; 2) the susceptibility to interference of the global or local stimulus levels; and 3) the flexibility in directing attention to global or local stimulus levels. The results revealed a global advantage effect that decreased with age when the task required level shifting from trial to trial. The abilities to resist interference and to flexibly shift attention also improved during childhood, but quickly leveled off during adolescence. The ability to shift attention was found to be unrelated to processes contributing to global advantage. The results suggest that the ability to flexibly shift attention to and away from local detail, to provide the most adaptive response, continues to develop during childhood into adulthood. © 2010 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.