Weisberg, Daniel Philip (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
In six experiments, I investigated children’s thinking about their own and others’ regret and relief. The results were described in relation to the developmental counterfactual thinking literature which offers an account of gradual improvements in order to achieve adult-like counterfactual thinking. Children aged 5 to 6 years old children experienced regret. Only children aged 7 to 8 years old experienced relief (Experiment 1). Children up to 6 to 7 years old failed to understand that another would experience regret or relief (Experiment 2). These findings are evidence for a lag between regret and relief. Investigation into the lag identified that relief trials may have been more difficult to process than regret trials but the lag was reduced. Children aged 4 to 5 years old experienced a fledgling regret (Experiment 3). Children’s limited experience of regret was unlikely to result from their difficulty to access explicit information. Children demonstrated no implicit responses to what could have been (Experiment 4). From 5 to 6 years old, children could infer the happiness of another after seeing what could have been but did not provide counterfactual justifications until 8 to 9 years old (Experiment 5). Children were less likely to experience regret or relief when there was less responsibility for the outcome. Thus, it was unlikely that children were using non-counterfactual thinking strategies throughout this thesis (Experiment 6). Children first think about regret at 4 to 5 years old. At 7 to 8 years old, they are able to think about relief. By 8 to 9 years old, when children can justify others’ regret and relief, children are most adult-like in their development of thinking about regret and relief
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