Differentiation of the Concepts of Luck and Skill


Kindergarten through eighth-grade children were presented two versions of a Matching Familiar Figures Test. In one version (luck), figures to be matched with a standard were not visible but were on the underside of cards. In the other (skill), the figures were visible. Questioning about the performance of hypothetical others on these tasks revealed four levels of differentiation of luck and skill. These levels showed parallels with age-related changes in conceptions of difficulty, effort, and ability. The least mature children focused on the visual complexity of tasks rather than on the fact that the luck task permitted only guessing. On this basis, they expected luck outcomes to reflect effort and considered the luck task to require less effort than the skill task. Only the most mature children clearly understood that effort could not affect outcomes on the luck task and selectively attributed skill outcomes to effort and luck outcomes to luck. The most mature children also spent less time than did less mature children in the face of failure on luck tasks but spent more time on skill tasks. © 1985 American Psychological Association.

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Developmental Psychology