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Young children's representations of peers' distress: Associations to children's social functioning and acceptance of distressed peers

  • Hans Bengtsson
  • Gun Persson
Publiceringsår: 2007
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 203-213
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
Volym: 48
Nummer: 3
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Wiley-Blackwell


Children's mental representations of situations involving another child's distress were examined in two studies. Study 1 examined 3- to 7-year-old children's (n = 44) ideas about what victims and bystanders would think, feel and do in hypothetical situations. In Study 2, 7- to 8-year-olds (n = 40) described their own cognitive response to situations in which they were confronted with another's distress. In both studies, representational bias was examined in relation to children's display of prosocial and aggressive behavior and in relation to their acceptance of distressed peers. Although not entirely consistent, findings indicate that three types of representational biases are associated with low levels of considerate behavior and with relatively low acceptance of distressed peers: (a) mentally representing the victim's problem without giving thought to its implications for the victim, (b) significantly reducing the emotional significance of the problem and (c) exaggerating negative aspects of the problem.


  • Psychology
  • empathy
  • aggressive behavior
  • prosocial behavior
  • representational bias


  • ISSN: 1467-9450

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