Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Children View And Treat Their Peers With Undesirable Characteristics

Date:
August 3, 2009
Source:
Kansas State University
Summary:
A new study looks at how children perceive and interact with peers who have various undesirable characteristics, such as being overweight or aggressive. The researchers' study explored children's perceptions of the ability of the peer to control or change such traits.

A study by Kansas State University researchers is looking at how children perceive and interact with peers who have various undesirable characteristics, such as being overweight or aggressive.

The researchers' study explored children's perceptions of the ability of the peer to control or change such traits.

The K-State research team included Mark Barnett, professor of psychology; Rachel Witham, graduate student in counseling and student development, Hutchinson; and Jennifer Livengood, Wamego, Natalie (Brown) Barlett, Ames, Iowa, and Tammy Sonnentag, Edgar, Wis., all graduate students in psychology. Their research was presented in May at the Association for Psychological Science annual convention in San Francisco, Calif.

"This study provides some evidence that if a child feels that an undesirable characteristic is under some sort of personal control, they are less likely to respond favorably to someone who displays that characteristic," Livengood said. "The study implies that if a child doesn't have experience with that particular undesirable characteristic, they are less likely to respond favorably to someone with that specific quality."

The researchers found that children who perceive themselves or a friend as similar to a peer with an undesirable characteristic might experience heightened empathy for that peer, and then might respond in a positive manner toward the peer. The findings also showed that boys, more than girls, tended to have negative attitudes toward peers with undesirable characteristics.

The study included third-graders and sixth-graders who completed questionnaires that had descriptions of hypothetical peers. The peers included a poor student, nonathletic student, obese student, aggressive student, shy student, asthmatic student and a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

When the children read a brief description of a hypothetical peer, they were asked to rate statements regarding the peer's personal control and change over the characteristic, and how they would respond to such a person. The children also were asked to indicate if they or a friend were similar to the peer.

The findings showed that the more the children agreed that the peers were at fault for their characteristic, the more they agreed that they would tease those peers, and the less they agreed that they would like or help those peers if they needed assistance.

According to the researchers, the sixth-grade boys displayed stronger agreement than the sixth-grade girls that the peers were at fault for the undesirable characteristic and that they would tease them. They also had less agreement that they would help such a peer if they needed assistance.

The study showed that the aggressive and asthmatic peers tended to receive the most extreme ratings. The aggressive peer was rated high on having fault for the characteristic and low on having a desire to change. The asthmatic peer was rated high on having the characteristic caused by something in the peer's body or brain and low on having fault for the characteristic.

The children's ratings showed that they consistently anticipated treating the asthmatic peer more favorably than the aggressive peer. The researchers said it appeared that the children perceived the highly aggressive peer's behavior as under personal control, and the asthmatic peer was perceived as suffering a medical condition that was largely out of personal control to cause or change. The obese peer also was rated high on having fault for the characteristic.

The children agreed more strongly that girls would improve more than boys with the help of adults to alter an undesirable characteristic. The researchers said since girls tend to seek assistance from adults and comply with directives from adults more frequently than boys, the children might have anticipated that girls would respond more favorably than boys.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Kansas State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Kansas State University. "How Children View And Treat Their Peers With Undesirable Characteristics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090730111202.htm>.
Kansas State University. (2009, August 3). How Children View And Treat Their Peers With Undesirable Characteristics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090730111202.htm
Kansas State University. "How Children View And Treat Their Peers With Undesirable Characteristics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090730111202.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins