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Conflict and Its Resolution in Small Groups of One- and Two-Year-Olds

Marlene Caplan, JoEllen Vespo, Jan Pedersen and Dale F. Hay
Child Development
Vol. 62, No. 6 (Dec., 1991), pp. 1513-1524
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130823
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130823
Page Count: 12
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Conflict and Its Resolution in Small Groups of One- and Two-Year-Olds
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Abstract

48 1- and 48 2-year-olds were observed in groups of 3 for 25 min on 2 consecutive days, once with ample resources and once with scarce resources. The triads were composed of either 2 girls and a boy or 2 boys and a girl, and duplicate copies of toys were available for half the groups. Their conflicts contained interpersonal features and were more affected by social influences than by the availability of resources. Contrary to expectations, scarcity of resources did not result in increased conflict. In fact, 2-year-olds were more likely to resolve conflict by sharing when toys were scarce. The provision of duplicates decreased the probability of conflict, but many conflicts occurred even when a duplicate was easily accessible. The form of conflict depended on the children's age and the gender composition of the group. Older children and groups dominated by boys, relative to younger children and groups dominated by girls, were less likely to use force and more likely to resolve disputes in prosocial ways. Taken together, these findings provide further evidence for the social nature of conflict in the first few years of life.

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