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Psychol Sci. 2005 Jul;16(7):501-5.

Development of affective decision making for self and other: evidence for the integration of first- and third-person perspectives.

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  • 1University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3G3.


The role of perspective taking in affective decision making was studied in children at two ages (3 and 4 years) using a delay-of-gratification paradigm in which children chose between an immediate reward of lower value and a delayed reward of higher value. Half the children chose for themselves (self condition), and half chose for the experimenter (other condition). Three-year-olds chose delayed rewards in the other condition but made impulsive choices in the self condition. Compared with 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds performed better in the self condition and worse in the other condition. Results suggest that 3-year-olds took either a subjective, first-person perspective (for self) or an objective, third-person perspective (for other). Four-year-olds integrated these perspectives, considering a third-person perspective in the self condition and the experimenter's subjective perspective in the other condition (i.e., her desire for immediate gratification). This integration allowed reason to be tempered by emotion, and vice versa.

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