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.


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!


Kid Other-Regarding Preferences:

This study investigates how children value their own rewards compared to rewards for others, and how that affects their sharing behavior. Children who participate in this study will be invited to play a game on a touchscreen computer where they decide between different ways of splitting rewards between themselves and another child. We hope to better understand how choosing to share (or not) changes with age and other factors, such as characteristics of the sharer or the recipient.

We are currently recruiting children between the ages of 7 and 10 for this study!