Children’s reasoning about social exclusion
The basic human need to belong has an evolutionary basis and is largely universal. The awareness of and ability to evaluate social interactions appears to emerge in infancy. Infants discriminate between positive and negatively valence interactions and even recognize dominance hierarchies in their observations of third-party interactions. However, there has been less research on the emergence of the motivation to seek acceptance and avoid rejection. I will present some of our work exploring the developmental trajectory of children’s early reasoning about the social dynamics of inclusion and exclusion. Our findings suggest that by three years of age, children begin to differentiate between excluders and those who have been excluded based on their intentions and interactions. The results will be discussed in the context of a broader theoretical framework for thinking about the emergence and development of the human sensitivity to social exclusion.