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Child Dev. 2013 Mar-Apr;84(2):443-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01865.x. Epub 2012 Sep 24.

Did she jump because she was the big sister or because the trampoline was safe? Causal inference and the development of social attribution.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1650, USA. seiver@berkeley.edu

Abstract

Children rely on both evidence and prior knowledge to make physical causal inferences; this study explores whether they make attributions about others' behavior in the same manner. A total of one hundred and fifty-nine 4- and 6-year-olds saw 2 dolls interacting with 2 activities, and explained the dolls' actions. In the person condition, each doll acted consistently across activities, but differently from each other. In the situation condition, the two dolls acted differently for each activity, but both performed the same actions. Both age groups provided more "person" explanations (citing features of the doll) in the person condition than in the situation condition. In addition, 6-year-olds showed an overall bias toward "person" explanations. As in physical causal inference, social causal inference combines covariational evidence and prior knowledge.

© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.

PMID:
23002946
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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