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Young children are more likely to spontaneous attribute mental states to members of their own group

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JournalPsychological Science
DateAccepted/In press - 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 22 Aug 2017
Number of pages7
Early online date22/08/17
Original languageEnglish


We investigated if young children are more likely to spontaneously attribute mental states to members of their own social group. We asked 5- and 6-year-old children to describe the actions of interacting geometric shapes and manipulated whether children believed these shapes represented their own group or another group. Both 5- and 6-year-old children spontaneously used mental state words more often when describing members of their own group. Furthermore, 6-year-olds produced a greater diversity of mental state terms when talking about their own social group. These effects held across two different social categories (based on gender and geographical location). This research has important implications for our understanding of a broad range of social phenomena including dehumanization, intergroup bias and theory of mind.

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