The development of bases for trait attribution: Children's understanding of traits as causal mechanisms based on desires

Yuill, Nicola and Pearson, Anna (1998) The development of bases for trait attribution: Children's understanding of traits as causal mechanisms based on desires. Developmental Psychology, 34 (3). pp. 574-586. ISSN 00121649

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Abstract

Two studies investigated 4- to 7-year-old children's understanding that traits can be causal mechanisms based on desires, as well as mere summaries of behavioral regularities. In Experiment 1, children made predictions given trait information. Children from 5 years made different emotion predictions about the same situation for actors with different traits, thus appreciating traits as psychological causes. For behavior prediction, children over age 4 generalized across situations. In Experiment 2, accurate emotion prediction by 3- to 7-year-olds was linked to understanding desire as a subjective mental property. The results suggest that children change from viewing traits as behavioral regularities to understanding them as internal mediators, and that advances in understanding desire underlie this change. These changes in understanding traits extend research on theory of mind beyond the basic concepts of desire and belief. ((c) 1998 APA/PsycINFO, all rights reserved) (journal abstract).

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Main author
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Nicola Yuill
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:34
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2012 10:42
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/13327
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