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Psychol Sci. 2005 May;16(5):385-90.

The development of cynicism.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA. candice.mills@yale.edu

Abstract

Two experiments explored the development of cynicism by examining how children evaluate other people who make claims consistent or inconsistent with their self-interests. In Experiment 1, kindergartners, second graders, and fourth graders heard stories with ambiguous conclusions in which characters made statements that were aligned either with or against self-interest. Older children took into account the self-interests of characters in determining how much to believe them: They discounted statements aligned with self-interest, whereas they accepted statements going against self-interest. Experiment 2 examined children's endorsement of three different explanations for potentially self-interested statements: lies, biases, and mistakes. Like adults, sixth graders endorsed lies and bias as plausible explanations for wrong statements aligned with self-interest; younger children did not endorse bias. Implications for the development of cynicism and children's understanding of bias are discussed.

PMID:
15869698
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3034135
Free PMC Article

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