Children base trait inferences about people on direct observations of behavior. In some situations, these inferences might conflict with information supplied by others. This study examined 3- to 6-year-olds’ willingness to change their own trait attributions about an actor after receiving a consistent or inconsistent trait label from an authority figure (i.e., a teacher). Participants were more likely to change their attributions when the teacher’s trait label was inconsistent with their own and when it was positive rather than negative. In response to inconsistent trait labels, 3- to 4-year-olds changed their trait labels more often than did 5- to 6-year-olds. The results indicate that children do not defer to a teacher’s trait testimony indiscriminately but take opportunities to view others positively. Findings are interpreted with reference to children’s perceptions of teacher knowledge and trait attribution biases.
Lapan, Candace; Boseovski, Janet J.; and Blincoe, Sarai
"“Can I believe my eyes?” Three- to six-year-olds’ willingness to accept contradictory trait labels,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 62
, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol62/iss1/2