How we seem "to be": English- and Spanish-speaking children's susceptibility to the fundamental attribution error and actor-observer bias
Spanish- and English-speaking children’s susceptibility to the fundamental attribution error and actor-observer bias was examined. Previous research has revealed that the Spanish verb estar, which tends to imply temporary qualities, (in contrast to ser, which suggests permanent ones) affects children’s reasoning both about real vs. apparent properties and stability of others’ psychological characteristics. The present study was interested in discovering whether the fundamental attribution error and actor-observer bias, tendencies to overestimate the influence of situational influences on one’s own behavior while providing dispositional attributions for the behavior of others, would be mediated by the existence in Spanish of two forms of the verb to be. Children’s attributions of themselves and others were observed in both an inference (priming) and story generation task. Data revealed a modest ‘dispositional bias’ which was greater among English speakers, and correlations between Spanish-speaking participants’ uses of ser in conjunction with dispositional attributions. Possible explanations of the study’s findings and directions for further research are discussed.