The effects of choice and source of constraint on children's attributions of preference
One hundred and twenty female children (40 each from the first, third, and sixth grades) were presented with videotaped presentations of a female child choosing between two toys. Depending upon condition, subjects then viewed the actor either playing with her initially preferred toy (Unconstrained choice) or being forced to play with her initially non-preferred toy (Constrained choice). Additionally, the source of the actor's freedom or constraint was represented as either adult mediated or environmentally mediated. All subjects rated the actor's liking for each of the toys, how much the actor wanted to play with each toy, and which toy the actor would choose to take home with her. The two major findings which emerged were: (1) Contrary to prediction, children of all three age levels tended to use cues reflecting both the actor's choice and the actor's behavior in inferring her liking for each of the toys. (2) As predicted, the degree to which observers' attributions of toy liking corresponded to inferred attitude of the adult (who either approved or prohibited the actor's choice) was an inverse function of age. The similarities between the findings of this study and the data from studies of adult attitude attribution and children's moral attributions are considered in the discussion. © 1974.
Costanzo, PR; Grumet, JF; Brehm, SS
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