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The effect of gender context on children's social behavious in a limited resource situation: an observational study


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Green, VA, Cillessen, A, Berthelsen, D, Irving, K and Catherwood, D 2003 , 'The effect of gender context on children's social behavious in a limited resource situation: an observational study' , Social Development, vol. 12, no. 4 , pp. 586-604 .

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Knowing when to compete and when to cooperate to maximize opportunities for equal
access to activities and materials in groups is critical to children's social and cognitive
development. The present study examined the individual (gender, social competence)
and contextual factors (gender context) that may determine why some children
are more successful than others. One hundred and fifty-six children (M age = 6.5
years) were divided into 39 groups of four and videotaped while engaged in a task
that required them to cooperate in order to view cartoons. Children within all groups
were unfamiliar to one another. Groups varied in gender composition (all girls, all
boys, or mixed-sex) and social competence (high vs. low). Group composition by
gender interaction effects were found. Girls were most successful at gaining viewing
time in same-sex groups, and least successful in mixed-sex groups. Conversely, boys
were least successful in same-sex groups and most successful in mixed-sex groups.
Similar results were also found at the group level of analysis; however, the way in
which the resources were distributed differed as a function of group type. Same-sex
girl groups were inequitable but efficient whereas same-sex boy groups were more
equitable than mixed groups but inefficient compared to same-sex girl groups. Social
competence did not influence children's behavior. The findings from the present study
highlight the effect of gender context on cooperation and competition and the relevance
of adopting an unfamiliar peer paradigm when investigating children's social

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Green, VA and Cillessen, A and Berthelsen, D and Irving, K and Catherwood, D
Keywords: gender; social competence; cooperation; competition; peer interaction
Journal or Publication Title: Social Development
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