Children's understanding of the implications of causal attributions for emotional experiences

Author/s: 

Deborah Stipek

,

Karen DeCotis

Year of Publication: 
1988

Children's perceptions of how the cause of achievement outcomes affects individuals' emotional responses were studied. In Study 1, children aged 6 and 7, 9 and 10, and 12 and 13 listened to stories describing hypothetical children's achievement outcomes. Success and failure were explicitly attributed to luck, ability, effort, or another person's intervention. After each story subjects rated the story child's emotional reactions. Only seventh graders associated pride and shame exclusively with outcomes attributed to ability and effort. Guilt was strongly associated with effort attributions, and surprise was associated with luck attributions for fourth- and seventh-grade children but not for first-grade children. The attribution-affect linkages assumed by the older children are the same as those found in previous studies of adults. In Study 2, children aged 6 and 7, 9 and 10, and 12 and 13 rated the cause of the outcomes in the same stories according to Weiner's controllability and locus dimensions. Children's placement of specific attributions on these dimensions was used to explain age differences in their beliefs about the effect of the attributions on emotional responses.

APA Citation

Stipek, D., & DeCotis, K. (1988). Children's understanding of the implications of causal attributions for emotional experiences.