Self-protective optimism: Children's biased beliefs about the stability of traits

Gil Diesendruck, Tali Lindenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Studies indicate that children believe that positive behaviors are more likely than negative ones to remain stable across time and situations. The present study assessed whether children hold such optimism equally regarding their own vs. others' behavioral patterns. Thirty five-year-olds answered questions about the extent to which they viewed themselves as having various positively, neutrally, and negatively valued behavioral patterns. An experimenter then asked children about the extent to which behavioral patterns that children thought they had would remain stable in themselves and in others, and the extent to which behavioral patterns that they did not think they had would remain stable in others. We found that children gave higher stability ratings for positive behaviors in themselves than in others, and the opposite regarding negative behaviors. This self-protective optimism is discussed vis-à-vis the relationship between children's beliefs about traits and their behaviors and motivations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-961
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Development
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2009

Keywords

  • Kindergarten children
  • Optimism
  • Self
  • Stability
  • Traits

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