ERIC Number: ED338327
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Objective Desirability: Bad Outcomes, Conflicting Desires and Children's Concept of Competition.
Perner, Josef; And Others
Two studies looked into the ability of 3- to 5-year-olds to understand the idea that a person who intends to bring about a bad outcome will be pleased when he does so. Previous studies had conflicting outcomes; one found children under age 7 did not understand the idea, while another found that most 5-year-olds did. The first of the two studies reported on in this document found that 3- and 4-year-olds had difficulty perceiving the agent as happy with the negative act, but understood the concept better by age 5. The control version of the second study presented children with scenarios in which two characters pursued their goals independently, and one's result was "good" and the other's "bad." In the other version, the characters had conflicting desires about a joint activity. Children tended to consider both of the characters with conflicting desires as being pleased. These results undermine a hypothesis that young children treat desirability as objective. But the hypothesis remains attractive. It implies, for example, that young children's lack of competitive spirit in games could be explained by their difficulty in understanding conflicting desires. It could also explain why young children always want what another child wants: another child wanting something makes it objectively desirable. (SAK)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (Seattle, WA, April 18-20, 1991).