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Young children contrast their behavior to that of out-group members

, : Young children contrast their behavior to that of out-group members. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 139: 234-241

The tendency for children to overimitate and conform to unanimous majorities is pervasive. Here we tested whether social factors are powerful enough to lead children to overcome this tendency and contrast their behavior to that of others. In one condition, children were shown a video of three out-group members performing the same action on a novel toy. In this condition, 5-year-olds, but not 4-year-olds, were significantly more likely to produce the contrasting action than the action demonstrated by the group. On the other hand, children who saw the same actions performed by neutral individuals typically matched their actions to those of the group regardless of their age. By demonstrating that 5-year-olds actively contrast their behavior to that of out-group members, these results provide an important comparison with previous research on imitation and conformity and demonstrate the profound influence that social motivations exert over children's copying behavior.


PMID: 26105978

DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.05.009

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