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Young Children Are Wishful Thinkers: The Development of Wishful Thinking in 3- to 10-Year-Old Children.

  • Author(s): Wente, Adrienne O;
  • Goddu, Mariel K;
  • Garcia, Teresa;
  • Posner, Elyanah;
  • Fernández Flecha, María;
  • Gopnik, Alison
  • et al.
Abstract

Previously, research on wishful thinking has found that desires bias older children's and adults' predictions during probabilistic reasoning tasks. In this article, we explore wishful thinking in children aged 3- to 10-years-old. Do young children learn to be wishful thinkers? Or do they begin with a wishful thinking bias that is gradually overturned during development? Across five experiments, we compare low- and middle-income United States and Peruvian 3- to 10-year-old children (N = 682). Children were asked to make predictions during games of chance. Across experiments, preschool-aged children from all backgrounds consistently displayed a strong wishful thinking bias. However, the bias declined with age.

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