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Age effects and gender differences on post-conflict reconciliation in preschool children

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[We studied conflict management and post-conflict affiliative interactions (reconciliation) in 3-to-6 year-old preschool children. We found development in reconciliatory proficiency with age for boys, but girls reconciled at similar levels throughout the age span. After peer conflict, 3-year-old boys were less likely to reconcile than same-aged girls, or as boys aged 4–6 years. Gender differences were not manifested in older same-age-groups (4–6-year olds). Younger boys (3–4-year olds) experienced higher reconciliation rates in conflicts with older boys (5–6-year olds) than in conflicts with same aged boys. We found no significant age or gender effects in distribution of reconciliatory repertoire or frequency of non-affiliative conflict management strategies (aggression and displacement activities, indicative of stress responses). However, 6-year-old children were more likely than younger children to mediate in conflicts in which they were not opponents, but had witnessed. Though not confirmed statistically, this phenomenon appeared more pronounced in girls than boys. Together, our results suggest that at 3 years of age, preschool children employ sophisticated behaviours to resolve conflicts, displaying remarkable receptiveness and responsiveness to reconciliatory behaviours exhibited by older opponents., We studied conflict management and post-conflict affiliative interactions (reconciliation) in 3-to-6 year-old preschool children. We found development in reconciliatory proficiency with age for boys, but girls reconciled at similar levels throughout the age span. After peer conflict, 3-year-old boys were less likely to reconcile than same-aged girls, or as boys aged 4–6 years. Gender differences were not manifested in older same-age-groups (4–6-year olds). Younger boys (3–4-year olds) experienced higher reconciliation rates in conflicts with older boys (5–6-year olds) than in conflicts with same aged boys. We found no significant age or gender effects in distribution of reconciliatory repertoire or frequency of non-affiliative conflict management strategies (aggression and displacement activities, indicative of stress responses). However, 6-year-old children were more likely than younger children to mediate in conflicts in which they were not opponents, but had witnessed. Though not confirmed statistically, this phenomenon appeared more pronounced in girls than boys. Together, our results suggest that at 3 years of age, preschool children employ sophisticated behaviours to resolve conflicts, displaying remarkable receptiveness and responsiveness to reconciliatory behaviours exhibited by older opponents.]

Affiliations: 1: The Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Solna, Sweden; 2: Department of Woman and Child Health, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital, Karolinska Institute, 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden; 3: Division of Ethology, Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; 4: Research and Development Centre, Sörmland County Council, Eskilstuna, Sweden

10.1163/156853908786131351
/content/journals/10.1163/156853908786131351
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/content/journals/10.1163/156853908786131351
2008-11-01
2016-10-01

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