When facing social exclusion, children seek to strengthen existing social connections and form new ones. This study asked whether they also make strategic choices about the targets of their affiliative goals. Three- to six-year-olds (N = 69; 36 female; mostly non-Hispanic White) observed characters acting inclusively or exclusively. All ages viewed excluders more negatively than includers, but only five- and six-year-olds preferred includers as play partners. Despite easily detecting and remembering exclusion events, younger children expressed no play partner preference. Children's verbal justifications revealed that older children choose partners more carefully and draw on a richer understanding of exclusion. More generally, the initial dissociation between social evaluation and preference formation underscores that these are distinct processes with different developmental trajectories.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. British Journal of Developmental Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society.
- play preferences
- social evaluation
- social exclusion
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article