Young children's representations of peers' distress: Associations to children's social functioning and acceptance of distressed peers

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Young children's representations of peers' distress: Associations to children's social functioning and acceptance of distressed peers. / Bengtsson, Hans; Persson, Gun.

In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, Vol. 48, No. 3, 2007, p. 203-213.

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T1 - Young children's representations of peers' distress: Associations to children's social functioning and acceptance of distressed peers

AU - Bengtsson, Hans

AU - Persson, Gun

PY - 2007

Y1 - 2007

N2 - Children's mental representations of situations involving another child's distress were examined in two studies. Study 1 examined 3- to 7-year-old children's (n = 44) ideas about what victims and bystanders would think, feel and do in hypothetical situations. In Study 2, 7- to 8-year-olds (n = 40) described their own cognitive response to situations in which they were confronted with another's distress. In both studies, representational bias was examined in relation to children's display of prosocial and aggressive behavior and in relation to their acceptance of distressed peers. Although not entirely consistent, findings indicate that three types of representational biases are associated with low levels of considerate behavior and with relatively low acceptance of distressed peers: (a) mentally representing the victim's problem without giving thought to its implications for the victim, (b) significantly reducing the emotional significance of the problem and (c) exaggerating negative aspects of the problem.

AB - Children's mental representations of situations involving another child's distress were examined in two studies. Study 1 examined 3- to 7-year-old children's (n = 44) ideas about what victims and bystanders would think, feel and do in hypothetical situations. In Study 2, 7- to 8-year-olds (n = 40) described their own cognitive response to situations in which they were confronted with another's distress. In both studies, representational bias was examined in relation to children's display of prosocial and aggressive behavior and in relation to their acceptance of distressed peers. Although not entirely consistent, findings indicate that three types of representational biases are associated with low levels of considerate behavior and with relatively low acceptance of distressed peers: (a) mentally representing the victim's problem without giving thought to its implications for the victim, (b) significantly reducing the emotional significance of the problem and (c) exaggerating negative aspects of the problem.

KW - empathy

KW - aggressive behavior

KW - prosocial behavior

KW - representational bias

U2 - 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2007.00559.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2007.00559.x

M3 - Article

C2 - 17518913

VL - 48

SP - 203

EP - 213

JO - Scandinavian Journal of Psychology

JF - Scandinavian Journal of Psychology

SN - 1467-9450

IS - 3

ER -