Opposite sex performing better has negative impact on kids (Re-issue)

November 2nd, 2008 - 5:52 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 2 (ANI): A new study has challenged the findings of previous studies that showed comparisons within peer groups act as performance boosters for preschoolers.

The new study led by University of Michigan psychologists has shown that comparison does arise negativity when they perform more poorly than a peerof the other gender e.g. if a girl learns that a boy has performed better than her, or vice versa.

Previous studies have shown that preschoolers (4-5 year old children) maintain positive self-evaluations and high levels of performance even when they see that their peers have out-performed them.

During the present study, the participants were asked to complete a timed circle-tracing task (i.e. they were told to fill in circles as quickly as possible) and then were told that a same-gender, other-gender or gender-unidentified peer performed better on the task than they did.

After receiving this information, the researchers made sure that the study participants understood the comparison, and then asked them to evaluate how well they performed on the task.

The children were then asked to complete the circle tracing task a second timethis time, they were told that they did better than the peer had doneand then were asked to assess their performance again.

The study showed that preschoolers are very sensitive to gender information- i.e. childrens behaviour critically depended on the gender of the peer.

Children who were told about a same-gender or gender-unidentified peer improved their performance across the two trials of the tracing task i.e. they completed the task more quickly the second time.

They also increased their self-evaluations after the second trial.

In contrast, the majority of children who were told about an other-gender peer performed more poorly on the second trial (i.e. they completed the task more slowly) and did not increase their self-evaluations.

These results indicate that when preschoolers see that they have performed more poorly than a peer of the other gendereven just one timethere are lasting negative consequences on behaviour and self-concept.

These findings have implications for the origins of social comparisons, category-based reasoning, and the development of gender stereotypes and achievement motivation, said the authors.

The results appear in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)

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