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Young Children's Causal Explanations are biased by Post-Action Associative Information

Citation
Atance CM, Metcalf JL, Martin-Ordas G & Walker CL (2014) Young Children's Causal Explanations are biased by Post-Action Associative Information, Developmental Psychology, 50 (12), pp. 2675-2685.

Abstract
In a series of 4 experiments, we tested children’s understanding that the causes of their actions must necessarily be attributed to information known prior to (i.e., “pre-action” information), rather than after (i.e., “post-action” information), the completion of their actions. For example, children were shown a dog, asked to get some cheese to feed the dog, and then returned to discover a mouse. In Experiment 1, the majority of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds claimed that they had gotten the cheese to feed the mouse. In Experiments 2 and 3, we ruled out the possibilities that (1) children had forgotten the critical “pre-action” information (e.g., “dog”), and (2) children had merely attributed the cause of their action to the most recent item (e.g., “dog”) that they had seen. Finally, in Experiment 4, we determined that 7-year-olds, but not 6-year-olds, correctly attributed the cause of their action to the pre-action information, suggesting that this is the age at which children are no longer influenced by associative post-action information when explaining the causes of their actions. These results are discussed in terms of their relevance for causal reasoning, action explanation, and memory.

StatusPublished
AuthorsAtance Cristina M., Metcalf Jennifer L, Martin-Ordas Gema, Walker Cheryl L
Publication date12/2014
Date accepted by journal03/11/2014
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association
ISSN 0012-1649
LanguageEnglish

Journal
Developmental Psychology: Volume 50, Issue 12

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