Abstract: Preschool-aged children are adept at detecting another person's
obvious inaccuracy or ineffectiveness. Do the social emotional characteristics of an agent
influence children's preferences for an agent? Do these characteristics influence
children's assessments of an agent's competence? Previous research shows that adults who
have high self-esteem are more likely than those who have ... read morelow self-esteem to view
individuals who provide favorable feedback as more competent; the current study examines
whether this phenomenon is also present in children. The current study also examines
whether, in addition to endorsing the competence of agents, children follow, or reject, the
lead of an inaccurate agent in their behavior, a nonverbal measure of children's
endorsement of an agent's competence. In two experiments, I examined children's perception
of agents who act in a both socially-emotionally positive manner and also inaccurate
manner. Experiment 1, a cross-sectional study, found that a higher age predicts choosing
the positive inaccurate agent as a favorite, and that children of all ages are more likely
to follow the incorrect lead of a positive inaccurate agent than follow the lead of a
negative one. Experiment 2 found replication of the effect in Experiment 1 that higher age
predicts choosing the positive inaccurate puppet as the favorite. Neither Experiment 1 nor
Experiment 2 found evidence for self-esteem as a predictor of any of these
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2015.
Submitted to the Dept. of Psychology.
Advisor: Heather Urry.
Committee: Keith Maddox, Paul Muentener, and Carol Dweck.
Keywords: Psychology, Developmental psychology, and Social