How 2- and 4-year-old children coordinate social interactions with peers
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The Interaction Engine Hypothesis postulates that humans have a unique ability and motivation for social interaction. A crucial juncture in the ontogeny of the interaction engine could be around 2–4 years of age, but observational studies of children in natural contexts are limited. These data appear critical also for comparison with non-human primates. Here, we report on focal observations on 31 children aged 2- and 4-years old in four preschools (10 h per child). Children interact with a wide range of partners, many infrequently, but with one or two close friends. Four-year olds engage in cooperative social interactions more often than 2-year olds and fight less than 2-year olds. Conversations and playing with objects are the most frequent social interaction types in both age groups. Children engage in social interactions with peers frequently (on average 13 distinct social interactions per hour) and briefly (28 s on average) and shorter than those of great apes in comparable studies. Their social interactions feature entry and exit phases about two-thirds of the time, less frequently than great apes. The results support the Interaction Engine Hypothesis, as young children manifest a remarkable motivation and ability for fast-paced interactions with multiple partners.
Rossano , F , Terwilliger , J , Bangerter , A , Genty , E , Heesen , R & Zuberbühler , K 2022 , ' How 2- and 4-year-old children coordinate social interactions with peers ' , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , vol. 377 , no. 1859 , 20210100 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2021.0100
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Copyright © 2022 Publisher / the Authors. This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the author created accepted manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2021.0100
DescriptionThis study was funded by Swiss National Science Foundation, grant no. CR31I3_166331 awarded to A.B. and K.Z., Social Science Research Grant, University of California, San Diego, Socialization in young children awarded to F.R., Yankelovich Center University of California, San Diego, A tale of two cultures awarded to F.R.
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