Award Date

May 2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Jennifer L. Rennels

Second Committee Member

Erin Hannon

Third Committee Member

Rachael Robnett

Fourth Committee Member

Joshua Baker

Number of Pages

65

Abstract

Children often associate positive attributes with high attractive peers and negative attributes with low attractive peers (bias), although some think both peers have positive attributes and neither has negative attributes (flexibility). Children also believe those they think positively of will think positively of them (positive bias reciprocation/positive flexibility reciprocation) and such beliefs in reciprocation predict bias and flexibility. Given the negative effects of bias (i.e., differential attributions based on one’s attractiveness) and the positive effects of flexibility, this study investigated individual differences in children and adolescent’s attractiveness biases and flexibility. Specifically, the author examined whether 9-11-year-olds and 14-16-year-olds’ beliefs in reciprocation mediated the associations among self-esteem, perspective-taking ability, and bias and among self-esteem, perspective-taking ability, and flexibility in the attractiveness domain. Participants (N=104) completed measures of self-esteem and perspective-taking and a task in which they assigned positive and negative attributes and considered who would reciprocate positive evaluations to faces differing in attractiveness. Participants could choose one of the two faces (i.e., displaying bias), or both or neither of the faces (i.e., displaying flexibility). For both age groups, participants’ beliefs in positive flexibility reciprocation mediated the association between self-esteem and flexibility and perspective-taking ability and flexibility, whereas these abilities were unrelated to their bias. Results suggest bias and flexibility activate two different cognitive mechanisms. Efforts to improve children and adolescent’s self-esteem and perspective-taking ability might increase flexible thinking, but predictors of bias need to be further explored.

Disciplines

Psychology

Language

English


Included in

Psychology Commons

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