Development of beliefs about chance and luck

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2011-12

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Abstract

Children ages 5 and 8 dropped a marble into a box and made predictions about which of two doors the marble would exit. Participants provided explanations and certainty ratings for each of their predictions. A lucky charm was used in a second round of the game, in which half of participants experienced an increase in success and half did not. Results indicated that older children were more cognizant of the chance nature of the game, however both age groups exhibited misconceptions about the predictability of chance outcomes. When asked to explain their overall success in Round 2, only 8 year-olds who experienced an increase in success and a perfect success rate reliably endorsed the lucky charm. Results are discussed with reference to literature on children’s and adults’ understanding of chance. We also discuss developmental patterns in the use of luck as an explanatory tool.

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