Social dominance and prosocial and coercive strategies of resource control in preschoolers

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This study was designed to investigate the predictors of social dominance, the strategies children use to control resources (prosocial and coercive), and the associations between these strategies and measures of personality, social skills, and peer regard. A total of 30 preschoolers (ages 3-6) were rated by their teachers on social dominance. Based on these ratings, dominant children were paired with multiple subordinate children (i.e., block design; Kenny, 1990) and observed in a play situation designed to elicit resource control behaviour. As hypothesised, age and the surgency facet of extraversion predicted social dominance (but openness to experience did not). Furthermore, also as expected, both prosocial behaviour and coercive behaviour were related to resource control in the play situation. Last, both resource control strategies were associated with parent-rated social competence, but only coercive control was associated with positive peer regard (i.e., Likeability). Factors of personality (e.g. agreeableness, hostility) were not associated with either of the strategies. The utility of an evolutionary perspective to resource control and social competence is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-176
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


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