Rachel Croce and Andrea Yuly successfully defended their M.A. theses this year! Both students are advised by Dr. Janet Boseovski.
Rachel’s thesis examined how a bias towards positive information affects children’s preference for learning from others. She presented children with individuals who varied in personality (mean vs. nice) and the type of feedback that they provided about a painting (positive feedback vs. negative feedback). Children showed a preference for the feedback from the mean individual who provided positive information but chose to affiliate with the nice individual even when they provided negative feedback. The preference for positive feedback increased with age. This research is important for understanding how children attend to the information that they receive from others and highlights the importance of positive information. These findings may help inform teachers and caregivers about ways to establish more effective learning and social experiences.
Andrea’s thesis examined children’s perceptions of people who are perceived as gender ambiguous (i.e., gender is unclear) as compared to gender typical (i.e., clearly male or female). Her research reveals that by 7 or 8 years of age, but not earlier, children tend to overlook gender ambiguous appearance and instead rely on common traits when making affiliation judgments. Children also do not show dislike of perceptually ambiguous people despite being unable to label them as male or female. This research is important because it examines perceptions of those who do not fit traditional gender binaries and has the potential to inform education programs that promote acceptance and inclusiveness.
Congratulations to Rachel and Andrea, M.A.s!