Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Clinical.




The purpose of this study was to investigate whether or not children's attributions would vary as a function of the age of the target person about whom the attribution was being made. Sixteen children, 8 boys and 8 girls, from each of grades 1, 4, 7, and 10 were interviewed. Each child was shown 8 photographs, half of which portrayed elderly individuals, and half of which portrayed young individuals. A behavioural description accompanied each photograph. Following the presentation of each photograph, each child was asked an open-ended question which was designed to elicit his/her spontaneous explanations for the behaviour. Responses were classified as either dispositional or situational attributions. Probes of either a dispositional or situational nature were administered to children who failed to include both dispositional and situational content in their initial responses. Results indicated that the behaviour of old targets was rated as being significantly more dispositional than the behaviour of young targets. While significant differences in attribution ratings between young and old targets were not found at the grade 1 and 4 levels, children at the grade 7 and 10 levels consistently rated the behaviour of old targets as being significantly more dispositional than the behaviour of young targets. Furthermore, girls in grades 7 and 10 showed the strongest tendency to express a dispositional bias for the behaviour of old targets. Children at all grade levels demonstrated the ability to make both dispositional and situational attributions, and contrary to expectation a developmental shift characterized by attributions becoming increasingly more dispositional was not observed. Discussion was in terms of how stereotypic expectancies may influence the attribution process, and in view of a significant interaction between target age and behaviour, it was suggested that a dispositional bias will be most readily detected for those behaviours which are strongly associated with stereotypic expectancies.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1983 .M322. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 44-03, Section: B, page: 0919. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1983.