Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Peer Pressure in Preschool Children

25.10.2011
Children as young as four years of age conform their public opinion to the majority

Adults and adolescents often adjust their behaviour and opinions to peer groups, even when they themselves know better.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands, studied this phenomenon in four-year-olds and found that preschool children are already subject to peer pressure. In the current study, the researchers found that children conformed their public judgment of a situation to the judgment of a majority of peers in spite better knowledge. (Child Development, October 25, 2011)

Humans do not only conform to arbitrary fashions but also to majority opinion even when they know better. This conformity plays a crucial role in the acquisition of one’s group’s behavioural repertoire. We learn group specific behaviour by observing other group members. When confronted with information that stands in conflict with our own beliefs or preferences, we often succumb to the point of view of the majority.

Daniel Haun of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the MPI for Psycholinguistics and Michael Tomasello of the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology analysed how pre-schoolers handle information that they acquire from peers. A total of 96 four-year-old girls and boys of 24 different kindergarten groups participated in their current study. “We wanted to know whether preschool children conform their opinion to the majority even if the latter is obviously in conflict with their own point of view“, says Daniel Haun.

In the first part of the study the preschoolers were tested in groups of four children each. They received seemingly identical books including 30 double pages with illustrations of animal families. On the left page were mother, father and child together, on the right only one of the three. The children were asked to identify the family member on the right. Yet, while the children believed all books to be the same, only three of the four books were actually identical, the fourth sometimes included the picture of a different family member on the right page. “The child with the divergent book was confronted with the – from his or her point of view – false but unanimous judgment of three peers“, Haun explains. „Out of 24 children 18 conformed at least once although they knew the majority response to be false“.

In a second study, the researchers investigated the motivation underlying children’s conformity. In this study, depending on whether a lamp was on or off, children were supposed to either say their answer out loud or to silently point to the correct animal. Consequently, only the adult observer, but not the other children could see the answer. Of 18 children 12 conformed to the majority at least once, if they had to say the answer out loud. Were they to point silently to the right answer, however, only 8 out of 18 children conformed to the majority judgment. The children thus conformed their public, but not their private, answer to the majority. This indicates that the conformity has social reasons as for example to avoid conflict with their peer group. Daniel Haun summarizes: “The current study shows that children as young as four years of age are subject to peer pressure and that they succumb to it, at least to some extent, out of social motivations”.

Contact:
Dr. Daniel Haun
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 3550-815
Email: haun@eva.mpg.de
Sandra Jacob
Press and Public Relations
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 3550-122
Fax: +49 341 3550-119
Email: jacob@eva.mpg.de
Publication reference:
Daniel B.M. Haun & Michael Tomasello
Conformity to Peer Pressure in Preschool Children

Barbara Abrell | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/4604573/children_chimpanzees_cooperation
http://www.mpg.de/4376010/collaboration-children-chimpanzees

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>