"This is some of the first research on reminding kids about their multi-faceted selves," said lead author Sarah Gaither, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. "Such reminders boost their problem-solving skills and how flexibly they see their social worlds -- all from a simple mindset switch."
Better problem-solving was just one positive finding of the study, Gaither said. After considering their own various identities, children also showed more flexible thinking about race and other social groupings -- a behavior that could be valuable in an increasingly diverse society.
Research - July - Journal - Developmental - Science
The research appears July 2 in the journal Developmental Science.
In a series of experiments, Gaither and her colleagues looked at 196 children, ages 6 and 7. All were native English speakers.
Experiment - Group - Children - Identities - Son
In one experiment, the first group of children was reminded they have various identities, such as son, daughter, reader or helper. A second group of children was reminded of their multiple physical attributes (such as a mouth, arms and legs).
In another experiment, one group of children was again reminded they have various identities. A second set of children received similar prompts -- but about other children's many roles, not their own.
Children - Series - Tasks - Children - Identities
All the children then tackled a series of tasks. Children who were reminded of their various identities demonstrated stronger problem-solving and creative thinking skills. For...
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