Previous research has found that young children fail to appreciate that they are the authority in judgments concerning their own psychological states. Typically they ascribe such authority to their parents. This conclusion has emerged from research in which children are asked to make a relative judgment: “Who knows best if you are [happy/cold/tired/hungry/etc.]?“ The present study addresses the possibility that this form of questioning underestimates children’s self-understanding. Using a within-subjects design, we contrasted two forms of question: the conventional, relative form of question; and a modified, absolute form of question in which parent and child are stated as being in opposition concerning the child’s states. Evidence from a sample of 5-, 7- and 9-year-olds confirms the robustness of the general developmental trend found by earlier researchers, but provides support for the suggestion that performance is better in response to the modified form of questioning. Moreover, our data indicate that developmental trajectories in children’s judgments about self-knowledge are differentiated by state-type.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology