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Valence Effects in Reasoning About Evaluative Traits

Gail D. Heyman and Jessica W. Giles
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
Vol. 50, No. 1 (January 2004), pp. 86-109
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23096118
Page Count: 24
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Valence Effects in Reasoning About Evaluative Traits
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Abstract

Reasoning about evaluative traits was investigated among a group of 7- and 8-year-olds (N = 34), a group of 11- to 13-year olds (N = 25), and a group of adults (N = 23) to determine whether their inferences would be sensitive to the valence of social and academic traits. Four aspects of trait-relevant beliefs were examined: (1) malleability, (2) stability over time, (3) origin in terms of nature versus nurture, and (4) an inference criterion that concerns how readily traits are inferred. Although there was evidence of an age-related decrease in the tendency to emphasize positive information, participants of all ages responded that positive traits are less malleable and more stable over time than negative traits, that the positive influences of biological and environmental factors are likely to override the negative influences, and that competence can be more readily inferred from positive outcomes than from negative outcomes.

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