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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Foundations of infants' social group evaluations Pun, Anthea Colleen


Previous research has suggested that infants exhibit a preference for familiar over unfamiliar social groups (e.g., preferring individuals from their own language group over individuals from a foreign language group). However, it is not clear whether such intergroup preferences are driven by positivity toward the familiar group and/or negativity toward the unfamiliar group. Using a novel habituation paradigm modeled conceptually after the Implicit Association Test, experiments 1-3 demonstrated that infants around 1-year of age positively evaluate the familiar language group, but do not negatively evaluate an unfamiliar language group. Experiments 4-5 addressed alternative interpretations of this core finding. Experiment 6 conceptually replicated Experiments 1-3, demonstrating that infants also expect members of the familiar language group (but not members of an unfamiliar group) to engage in prosocial behaviours. Together these data suggest that children’s early social group behaviours (e.g., toy choice, preferential looking) may be shaped by positive evaluations of familiar group(s), rather than negative evaluations of unfamiliar groups.

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