ERIC Number: ED224577
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Children's Perceptions of Relations between Controllability and Anger, Pity, and Guilt.
Doubleday, Catherine; Graham, Sandra
The purpose of this study is to identify developmental trends in children's understanding of pity, anger, and guilt by examining changes in their reasoning about the causes of these emotions. Specifically, relationships between perceived controllability of negative events and these three emotions were examined. A total of 120 children between the ages of 6 and 11, evenly divided by sex, were asked to recall personal experiences of pity, anger, and guilt and to rate the cause of each emotion on degree of controllability. (Guilt was included as a variable in the study because research with adults indicates this emotion is primarily elicited when causes of negative events are controllable.) Thus, pity/uncontrollability, anger/controllability, and guilt/controllability causal linkages were investigated. Children were interviewed individually by one of four female experimenters who adhered to an established script. Results indicate systematic relationships between pity/uncontrollability and anger/controllability among all age groups. In addition, a developmental increase was found in the linkage of guilt to controllable causes of negative events. Because of its closer link with outcome than with perceived controllability, guilt in young children, in contrast to pity and anger, is interpreted as being a qualitatively different and cognitively less complex emotion. (Author/RH)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Anger; Guilt; Pity
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association (90th, Washington, DC, August 23-27, 1982).