The development of causal attributions in social perception

Rachel Karniol*, Michael Ross

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conducted 2 experiments with a total of 159 kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade children and college students to examine discounting of a plausible internal cause for a behavior in the presence of an extrinsic cause. Ss listened to tape-recorded stories that contrasted target persons who engaged in toy play of their own accord with those who were commanded or bribed to play with the same toy. Ss were asked to indicate which story character really wanted to play with the target toy. Exp I indicated that the majority of kindergartners used an additive principle such that tangible rewards and parental commands increased the target person's desire to play with the toy. Use of the additive principle decreased and use of the discounting principle increased with age. Similar age trends were obtained in Exp II. Implications of the findings for the study of self-perceptions of intrinsic motivation are dicussed. (30 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-464
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1976
Externally publishedYes


  • stories of target persons engaged in playing with toy through choice vs commands or bribery, use of additive vs discounting principle in attribution of desire to play with specific toy, kindergartners vs 1st vs 2nd graders vs college students


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