Tiziana Pozzoli, Gianluca Gini, Beatrice Benelli

Children's beliefs about origin and stability of prosocial and aggressive behaviour

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: social reasoning, trait attribution, aggressive and prosocial behaviour

The present study aimed at investigating the developmental changes in the perceived association between social behaviour and personality traits in 5- to 8-year-old children (N = 120). Participants heard four stories describing a prosocial or aggressive behaviour and answered some questions about stability, origins and causes of these behaviours. Data showed that older children used more explanations based on internal dispositions (i.e., personality traits) for prosocial behaviour than for aggressive behaviour. Moreover, they considered prosocial behaviour more stable over time and in different contexts than aggressive behaviour. In contrast, younger children equally considered both types of behaviour as not motivated by internal characteristics of the actor and not very stable. In general, our results indicate a shift from global evaluative reasoning to trait attributions during the transition from kindergarten to primary school.

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