Title

Four uear olds inferential use of trait labels.

Poster Number

4

Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Artist Statement

The study was a partial replication of two experiments by Heyman and Gelman (1999) concerned with 4-year-olds' ability to use trait labels to make inferences about someone's mental state and behavior. We replicated the story-telling procedures with 27 4-year-old children who completed both experiments. For four stories, the children were asked how the main character wanted to affect the other character, how the main character thought the other character would respond, and what was the main character's emotional response. In the first experiment we replicated Heyman and Gelman's effect of the trait labels "nice" and "mean" on attribution of the main character's motives, but the main character's ability to foresee the outcome effect on the other story character was substantially less than previously found. There were no significant effects on the emotional response measure. In the second experiment, the children attributed different motives to the characters in four stories depending on the shy, not shy label. However, contrary to the prior study's results, we did not find that the shyness label reliably affected the children's expectation judgments or emotional responses. Our results were not as consistent across measures as Heyman and Gelman found, however the results support the conclusion that 4 year olds can in some cases use trait labels to make psychological inferences.

Location

Pacific Geosciences Center

Start Date

20-4-2002 9:00 AM

End Date

20-4-2002 5:00 PM

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Apr 20th, 9:00 AM Apr 20th, 5:00 PM

Four uear olds inferential use of trait labels.

Pacific Geosciences Center

The study was a partial replication of two experiments by Heyman and Gelman (1999) concerned with 4-year-olds' ability to use trait labels to make inferences about someone's mental state and behavior. We replicated the story-telling procedures with 27 4-year-old children who completed both experiments. For four stories, the children were asked how the main character wanted to affect the other character, how the main character thought the other character would respond, and what was the main character's emotional response. In the first experiment we replicated Heyman and Gelman's effect of the trait labels "nice" and "mean" on attribution of the main character's motives, but the main character's ability to foresee the outcome effect on the other story character was substantially less than previously found. There were no significant effects on the emotional response measure. In the second experiment, the children attributed different motives to the characters in four stories depending on the shy, not shy label. However, contrary to the prior study's results, we did not find that the shyness label reliably affected the children's expectation judgments or emotional responses. Our results were not as consistent across measures as Heyman and Gelman found, however the results support the conclusion that 4 year olds can in some cases use trait labels to make psychological inferences.