Shading the Truth: Self-Serving Biases in Children's Reports of Sibling Conflicts

Siblings between 4 1/2 and 9 1/2 were interviewed concerning positive and negative actions of self or sibling that either did or did not occur in past conflicts, and then asked to describe these disputes. Children evidenced self-serving biases, ascribing positive actions to themselves more than to their siblings. Additionally, younger siblings denied their negative actions. Older siblings admitted to, but spontaneously explained, their negative actions; they also excluded such actions from their narratives. Moreover, differences between children's accurate and inaccurate responses (in latencies to respond, integration of actions in narratives, and explanations for actions that did or did not occur) suggest that children's attempts to manage the impressions they make on others contribute to biased reports of past conflicts.