Mechanisms for overcoming reality status biases

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Tullos, Sara Ansley

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Children use many cues to differentiate reality from fantasy, including context, testimony from others, and physical evidence in the world around them. However, due to individual differences, some children hold strong reality status biases that interfere with their ability to infer reality status from these cues correctly. This research identified two general cognitive skills, inhibitory control and a metacognitive understanding of certainty, which serve as mechanisms for overcoming biases to infer reality status. In general, children with a high interest in fantastical play and older children with poorer developed inhibitory control skills are more likely to display a reality status bias. Additionally, children with reality status biases are more likely to overcome them to infer reality status correctly when they have a better metacognitive understanding of certainty and better developed inhibitory control. This research informs both the fantasy/reality literature and the scientific reasoning literature in demonstrating how biases can affect children's judgments.




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