Priming third-party ostracism increases affiliative imitation in children

Harriet Over*, Malinda Carpenter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Human beings are intensely social creatures and, as such, devote significant time and energy to creating and maintaining affiliative bonds with group members. Nevertheless, social relations sometimes collapse and individuals experience exclusion from the group. Fortunately for adults, they are able to use behavioral strategies such as mimicry to reduce their social exclusion. Here we test whether children, too, increase their imitation following an experience of ostracism. Given humans' profound need to belong, we predicted that the mere hint of social exclusion - even third-party social exclusion - would be sufficient to increase affiliative imitation in 5-year-olds. As predicted, children primed with videos in which one shape was ostracized by a group of other shapes subsequently imitated the actions of a model more closely than children in a control condition. These findings highlight just how sensitive humans are to social exclusion and demonstrate that children, like adults, modify their social behavior in response to ostracism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F1-F8
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental Science
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

Keywords

  • PEER VICTIMIZATION
  • OVERT AGGRESSION
  • NONCONSCIOUS MIMICRY
  • SOCIAL EXCLUSION
  • SELF-ESTEEM
  • BEHAVIOR
  • REJECTION
  • PRESCHOOL
  • FORMS
  • ADJUSTMENT

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