Date

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Department

Psychology

First Adviser

Brandone, Amanda C.

Other advisers/committee members

Nicolopoulou, Ageliki; Laible, Deborah; Moskowitz, Gordon

Abstract

The present study extends the literature on naïve psychology and naïve sociology, the everyday systems of thinking about others as psychological beings and members of social categories. A novel narrative paradigm was used to examine one way that these two systems might intersect, testing whether children varied their attributions of internal mental experience based on the social group membership of story characters. Seventy-five children ages 6 to 10 and a comparison group of 33 young adults (all identifying as White/Caucasian) generated stories about characters whose membership in the social groups of gender and race was manipulated. The number of emotion, cognition, and intention attributions as well as the quality and complexity of mentalizing for narrative protagonists were assessed. It was predicted that participants would engage in more mentalization for characters that are gender and race ingroup members and less mentalization for characters that are outgroup members. However, contrary to predictions, results revealed that the mentalizing produced by both children and young adults did not differ based on the story characters’ membership in the basic social groups of gender and race. However, issues with the narrative paradigm may have obscured any subtle differences in mentalizing based on the identity of the story characters. Thus, the lack of demonstrated differences in mentalizing based on characters’ social group membership should not be taken as strong evidence of equal mentalizing across social groups. Additional work is needed to further test this question and better-explore this particular intersection of naïve psychology and naïve sociology.

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Psychology Commons

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