Role of Various Fault Attributions and Other Factors in Children's Anticipated Response to Hypothetical Peers With Undesirable Characteristics

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Two studies examined the role of various fault attributions and other factors in children's anticipated response to hypothetical peers described as having an undesirable characteristic. The children were found to distinguish among various fault attributions (i.e., general, onset, and perpetuation; study 1), and they tended to agree more strongly that the peers were responsible for the perpetuation than the onset of these characteristics (studies 1 and 2). In study 1, perceiving an aggressive or overweight peer as similar to a friend and believing that the overweight peer will overcome this undesirable characteristic were found to be associated with a relatively favorable response to these peers. The more strongly the children agreed that (1) an aggressive peer is generally at fault for his/her undesirable characteristic (study 1) and (2) peers who are aggressive, overweight, shy, or a poor student are at fault for the onset of their undesirable characteristics (study 2), the less favorably they anticipated responding to these peers. Unexpectedly, attributing responsibility to forces ‘outside the peer's control’ (i.e., parents and biology) for his/her undesirable characteristic in study 2 was not found to be associated with a relatively favorable response to any peer with an undesirable characteristic.

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