Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Peer pressure in preschool children: Children as young as 4 years of age conform their public opinion to the majority

Date:
October 25, 2011
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Adults and adolescents often adjust their behavior and opinions to peer groups, even when they themselves know better. Researchers in Germany and the Netherlands studied this phenomenon in 4-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.

Four-year-old children already conform their public opinion to the majority opinion.
Credit: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

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.

The research is published in the journal Child Development (Oct. 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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel B. M. Haun, Michael Tomasello. Conformity to Peer Pressure in Preschool Children. Child Development, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01666.x

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Peer pressure in preschool children: Children as young as 4 years of age conform their public opinion to the majority." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111025090353.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2011, October 25). Peer pressure in preschool children: Children as young as 4 years of age conform their public opinion to the majority. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111025090353.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Peer pressure in preschool children: Children as young as 4 years of age conform their public opinion to the majority." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111025090353.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
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