The present study addresses primary school children’s cognition about selfpresentational behavior (i.e., behavior designed to shape others’ evaluations of the self). In Experiment 1 of the present study, 48 6- to 11-year-olds provided explanations for interpersonal behavior by story characters. As predicted, the youngest children in the sample had a specific difficulty with identifying selfpresentational motives. Importantly, the children’s performance on control stories demonstrated that this was not likely to reflect difficulty with reasoning about others’ beliefs. In Experiment 2, work with a further 48 children showed that even among children who clearly had the mental-state reasoning skills required for understanding others’ beliefs about the self, there remained variability in the identification of self-presentational motives that was associated with variability in the attribution of embarrassment to story characters. It is suggested that the ability to take others’ perspectives on the self is present in young children and that a mature understanding of the concerns that underlie both self-presentational behavior and feelings of embarrassment is likely to depend additionally on social-motivational factors.
"Children’s Understanding of
Links With Mental-State Reasoning
and the Attribution of Embarrassment,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 48
, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol48/iss4/4