Development of Considerateness:

Do young children keep other people in mind as they go about their daily lives?  Are they capable of considerateness (i.e. behaving with others in mind without being asked)?  We are exploring these questions in a simple and fun experiment where children play a game with big colorful stickers.  The game involves some planning: as a child places his or her stickers on a small paper board, they have a chance to leave room — or not — for the next player’s stickers.  In a control condition, the game is similar except the “next player” is the child him- or herself.  So far, we’ve found that preschoolers are capable of planning for themselves, but not so much for others.  Our next question is: what can help children be more considerate?  In a variation of the sticker game, the child first experiences consequences of a “previous player’s” inconsiderateness, and we’ve been finding that this experience helps them be more considerate of others in the future.

We have concluded data collection for this study.

Preschool Friendship Study:

Friendships are important relationships throughout life and, particularly in childhood, provide a context to practice developing social and cognitive skills. Preschoolers are just starting to figure out what makes someone a friend and discovering the joys and challenges of friendships. We are interested in young children’s ideas about what friendships look like and how these ideas are reflected in their actual friendships and in their sharing behaviors with friends.

Data collection is ongoing for this study.

Parenting and Self-Regulation Study:

Self-regulation is an integral part of people of all ages’ lives, as it is related to people’s self-control and ability to achieve goals. Furthermore, as parenting has been shown to affect the development of self-regulation in children, we are interested in studying the intersection between parenting and self-regulation, as well as how parenting is measured and empirically defined. We are also interested in studying how cooperation between two similar-aged children can affect self-regulation.

We have concluded data collection for this study.

 

Collaboration, Defection, and Remorse:

For this study, we are interested in preschool aged children’s understanding of collaborative work and their responses to defection and remorse. We conceptualize this as a sort of tension between empathy and justice. Previous research has studied these phenomenon in isolation, but we are looking to understand their relationship in a single setting. So for the study, 1 child and 2 partners (puppets) work together to color a coloring page; they are told all circles must be colored to earn the reward (bouncy balls). Each player is assigned a color to highlight their role. They make a joint commitment to work together. Halfway through the task, 1 puppet (Defector) states that they do not feel like continuing, other puppet (Hard-Worker) and child continue to work. The coloring page is not completed. The Experimenter returns and announces that there are fewer rewards than if the whole page had been colored. The Defecting puppet either expresses remorse in one condition or does not express remorse in the other. Then, resources are distributed and we ask the child a few questions about the feelings they have towards their partners. We are interested to see if a child favors the Hard-Worker or the Defector in both resource distribution settings and character appraisal. Do the favor justice, empathy, or a combination of both?

We are currently recruiting children between the ages of 4 and 6 for this study!