Rachel White, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Superhero Costumes Come to Parents' Rescue, a Feb. 8 Wall Street Journal article, featured a recent study by Assistant Professor of Psychology Rachel White titled The “Batman Effect”: Improving Perseverance in Young Children. White found that pretending to be a strong-willed character helped children be more persistent in performing tasks.

The characters from which the children in her study chose were Batman, Bob the Builder, Rapunzel (from the movie Tangled), and Dora the Explorer. Children who impersonated a hero stuck to a tedious task 46% of the time, compared with 29% for the children whose self-talk was in the first person. White’s study was published in the Child Development, the journal of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), in December 2016.

“Pretending to be strong and admirable can help a child take on those characteristics of confidence and competence,” said White, the lead author of the study. Education Week had also written about this study in December.

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