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Thomas, A. J., Navarro Hernandez, S., Sumner, E., & Sarnecka, B. (2022). Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial. Collabra: Psychology, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.33956 Developmental Psychology Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial a b 1 2 3 3 Ashley J. Thomas , Silvia Navarro Hernandez , Emily Sumner , Barbara Sarnecka Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Center for Research on Equitable and Open Scholarship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA, 2 3 Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA, Psychology, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA Keywords: social relationships, development, prestige, dominance, social hierarchy https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.33956 Collabra: Psychology Vol. 8, Issue 1, 2022 Humans in every society encounter social hierarchies. Previous research has shown that children use various cues to say who is, “in charge”. In the present studies we ask how children think those who are in charge treat others. In Studies 1 and 2, children heard stories and saw drawings of social groups where one character wore a crown and sat on a throne (Study 1) or just wore a crown (Study 2) and three other characters stood alongside with no special clothing or markings. The children were told about an action, and then had to guess who had done it. When asked who pushed someone down, most 6- to 8-year-old children guessed that one of the uncrowned characters had done the pushing, while 3- to 5-year-old children seemed to consider the crowned and uncrowned characters equally likely to push someone. When asked who kicked out a hostile intruder, children of all ages chose the crowned character more often than an uncrowned character. Study 3 asked whether children expect crowned characters to put themselves in harm’s way to protect uncrowned characters and whether they expect crowned characters to be actively prosocial. Here, neither the older nor the younger children expected the crowned characters to put themselves in harm’s way to protect the others, and they thought the crowned character was less likely than others to perform prosocial actions such as helping someone up or sharing a cookie. These data suggest that children expect leaders, at least in this context, to provide specific benefits such as expelling hostile intruders, but not to be more prosocial than other people overall. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that children use inferences about social roles to predict people’s behavior. Humans across societies and in many different social set- 1973; van Vugt & Tybur, 2014). Dominant individuals in tings find themselves in social hierarchies (Boehm, 1999; both human hierarchies and hierarchies in other species of- Fiske, 1992). In order to navigate hierarchies, humans must ten maintain their rank through threat of violence. For ex- be able to recognize relative social rank and use information ample, in some non-human primate species, high-ranking about rank to predict people’s behavior (Kaufmann & Clé- individuals act like school-yard bullies, committing unpro- ment, 2014). In practice, social rank can be grounded in voked acts of aggression which helps them maintain their different systems, broadly referred to as dominance hierar- social rank (Silk, 2003). chies or prestige-based hierarchies (Fiske, 1992; Henrich & Hierarchies are referred to as prestige-based hierarchies Gil-White, 2001). Hierarchies are referred to as dominance when people are deferred to because others perceive them hierarchies when high-ranking people are deferred to be- as able and willing to provide benefits such as knowledge, cause they are perceived to be more dangerous than others material resources or protection (e.g., Cheng & Tracy, (e.g., stronger or more aggressive; Pratto et al., 1994; van 2014). People who hold high rank through prestige are often Vugt & Tybur, 2014). For example, a stronger sibling might held to a higher standard of behavior than low-ranking peo- maintain control over the television because their weaker ple. For example, in societies that rely on hunting for food, sibling does not want to risk getting hurt in a fight for the the best hunters often enjoy more decision-making power. remote. This form of hierarchy occurs not only in humans However, to maintain this status, the best hunters must but also in many other species where rank is a function of also provide benefits by sharing most or all their meat with an individual’s potential to inflict harm on others (Boehm, lower-status people (von Rueden et al., 2014). Of course, 1999; Cummins, 2005; Huntingford, 2013; Smith & Price, dominance and prestige cannot always be clearly distin- a Correspondence can be sent to Ashley Thomas: firstname.lastname@example.org b Author is now working at Toyota Research Institute Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial guished. Take, for example, the relationship between an that relate to dominance, such as physical size and coalition employer and an employee. While the employee may per- size (Pun et al., 2016; Thomsen et al., 2011; Thomsen & ceive their boss as someone who provides benefits in the Carey, 2013). These dominance cues also influence infants’ form of guidance and resources, the employer can inflict social evaluations: Infants avoid those who win zero-sum harm on the employee by taking away income or opportu- conflicts, suggesting that they may see ‘winners’ as dom- nities. Because each person’s rank is defined in relation to inant and thus threatening (Thomas & Sarnecka, 2019). other people, the ultimate determinants of ‘dominance’ and Older children are sensitive to dominance cues as well. They ‘prestige’ are the perceptions of the lower-ranking people use these cues to decide who is in charge. For example, in the relationship and their expectations about how the when children ages 5 and 6 years are shown pictures of two higher-ranking people will treat them. people—one in a dominant posture with hands on hips and Both dominant and prestigious individuals are often chest puffed out, the other in a submissive posture with seen as stronger than others, but prestigious people are ex- shoulders rolled forward and hands in front of them—most pected to use their strength for their group’s good, such children say the person with the dominant posture as being as to protect subordinates or enforce rules (Fiske, 1992; ‘in charge’ (Brey & Shutts, 2015). Related to the current Fiske & Rai, 2014). In contrast, dominant individuals are question are studies suggesting that children may associate expected to use their strength to get what they want. The those who are in charge with antisocial actions. In these actions of dominant and prestigious individuals’ also influ- studies, children were told about an interaction that in- ence perceptions of them: A dominant individual who is es- cluded a cue of social rank (e.g., giving permission). Chil- pecially aggressive may instill fear in subordinates, whereas dren more consistently identified the high-ranking charac- a prestigious individual who is notably non-aggressive may ter when the interaction was bad for the subordinate (e.g., instill trust in subordinates (Fiske, 1992; Fiske & Rai, 2014). the subordinate asked if they could play, and the high-rank- In the current study, we ask whether children (visitors ing character said no) than when it benefitted the subordi- to a science museum in Southern California), have expecta- nate (e.g., the subordinate asked if they could play, and the tions about how high-ranking individuals (hereafter, ‘lead- high-ranking character said yes; Gülgöz & Gelman, 2016). ers’ ) will treat other individuals. While much prior work in Similarly, three to five year-olds also say that a person is developmental psychology has focused on how children un- ‘the boss’ if they are stronger, have more resources, or win derstand others in terms of their traits (e.g., Heyman & Gel- a conflict, all of which may benefit ‘the boss’ (Charafeddine man, 1998; Kiley Hamlin & Steckler, 2015) or group mem- et al., 2014). bership (e.g., Dunham, 2018; Gelman & Taylor, 2000), less These studies show that children make inferences about work has focused on children’s understanding of relation- who is in charge. They also suggest that children may think ships (see, for example, Afshordi & Liberman, 2020; Olson leaders are those who benefit from interactions as opposed & Spelke, 2008), including whether they use existing rela- to those who provide benefits. In other work, children dis- tionships to predict behavior. Thus, the first question the tinguish dominance from prestige (or at least distinguish current studies set out to test is whether children use an ex- aggression from dominance) from a young age. For exam- isting hierarchical relationship to predict behavior. Second, ple, toddlers ages 21 to 31 months prefer those who are these studies investigate whether children expect leaders deferred to in zero-sum conflicts, but not those who use to act in ways that agree more with dominance or pres- force to win (Thomas et al., 2018). Toddlers of the same tige-based hierarchies. That is, without information about age expect subordinates to follow the directions of absent whether a high-ranking person is high-ranking because of leaders who were deferred to, but not those who used ag- dominance or prestige, would children nonetheless expect gression to impose their will (Margoni et al., 2018). More- them to act more in line with one of these models? Thus, over, infants expect leaders to intervene when one sub- the actions we use in the current study were chosen with the ordinate does something antisocial to another (Stavans & distinction between dominance and prestige in mind, how- Baillargeon, 2019). Interestingly, older children do not ever as noted above, these types of social rank cannot al- seem to distinguish dominance from prestige in their pref- ways be cleanly distinguished. In line with prestige-based erences and resource allocations (Enright et al., 2020). Here hierarchies we specifically ask, do children expect leaders we ask whether children expect high-ranking individuals to to provide certain benefits? If so, what types of benefits? In either provide benefits to others (consistent with prestige- line with dominance-based hierarchies, we ask, do they ex- based ranking) or to commit aggression toward others (con- pect leaders to be responsible for unprovoked aggression? sistent with dominance-based ranking). These studies can shed light on whether children are biased One reason to think that children may expect leaders to see leaders, at least in this context, in line with one of will provide benefits is that children do expect high-ranking these two models. people to provide at least one benefit–information. When These questions build on previous work asking whether a high-ranking person and a low-ranking person disagree infants and children identify leaders given commonly rec- about the name of a novel object, children endorse the ognized cues of social rank. Infants are sensitive to cues high-ranking person’s opinion (Bernard et al., 2016). How- 1 The scholarly literature includes many different terms for high- and low-ranking individuals. Here we use ‘leader’ for ease of reading. We do not mean leader to be a person who influences a group, as the term has sometimes been used elsewhere (Van Vugt, Smith 2019) here we use it as a shorthand for ‘high-ranking individual’. Collabra: Psychology 2 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial ever, it is not yet known whether children have general ex- Table 1. Parent’s response when asked about child’s pectations about how high-ranking individuals will treat racial background. subordinates, including whether they expect them to be Racial Valid more or less likely to commit unprovoked acts of aggres- Frequency Percent Background Percent sion, whether they expect leaders to provide benefits, and if so, what those benefits might be. Asian 38 21.591 38.384 We start by asking the following questions: Do children Asian, Black/ expect leaders to commit unprovoked acts of aggression? African 1 0.568 1.010 American Do children expect leaders to provide protection? Broadly, these studies address the question of whether children ex- Asian, white 9 5.114 9.091 pect leaders to use their social status for the benefit of oth- Black, Native 1 0.568 1.010 ers or to their detriment. All studies were approved by the American UC Irvine IRB; protocol number #2013-9945; Titled Con- Black, Native cepts of Social Relationships. All participants were recruited American, 1 0.568 1.010 white from a museum in Orange County in Southern California, Black/African USA. 5 2.841 5.051 American Study 1 Black/African American, 3 1.705 3.030 Method white Native Participants Hawaiian/ 2 1.136 2.020 Pacific In Study 1, we tested 195 children between the ages of 3 Islander and 9 years old who were visitors to a children’s museum in white 38 21.591 38.384 Orange County, Southern California. Of these, we excluded white, Native data from 12 children who did not answer one or more Hawaiian/ 1 0.568 1.010 of the main test questions (e.g., "Who is in charge"; “Who Other Pacific pushed someone down”; and “Who kicked someone out”). Islander Data from 7 other children were excluded because of inter- No response 77 43.750 ference from another child or parent, or because they had Total 176 100.000 seen another child do the experiment before doing it them- selves. These criteria were decided ahead of data collection. This left 176 children in the sample (93 boys, 83 girls, hints about the identity of the character doing the action. by parental report). This sample included 19 three-year- (See Figure 1 for an example and see https://osf.io/4vezr/ for olds, 32 four-year-olds, 44 five-year-olds, 34 six-year-olds, all illustrations used in the study.) 29 seven-year-olds, 15 eight-year-olds, and 3 nine-year- olds. Our recruitment goal, decided before testing began, Procedure was to test at least 30 children each at ages four, five, six, Participants were recruited from among the visitors to a and seven. Because we recruited participants at a museum, children’s museum during regular business hours. Experi- some three-, eight- and nine-year-olds also joined the menters approached parents on the museum floor and in- study, but the sample sizes are smaller for those groups. vited them to participate if their child was in the target age Materials range. Parents filled out a consent form while the experi- menter interacted with the child before leading them into Children saw a series of illustrations depicting human the testing room. Before entering the testing room, parents characters wearing colored t-shirts. The characters were de- were briefed about the procedure and asked to sit outside signed to prevent inferences about race or gender. Each the testing room. The testing room had clear glass doors so group was introduced with a novel name, e.g., ‘the Wugs’. that parents could watch the procedure without distracting In the illustration we used to introduce each group there the children or affecting their answers. was one leader – a character sitting on a throne wearing The participating child sat across from the experimenter. a crown, and three non-crowned characters. We illustrated Before the experiment began, the experimenter introduced the leader this way because sitting higher than others or herself and said, “I’m going to tell you some stories and ask wearing something to make oneself appear larger or you some questions, ok?” Then the experimenter presented brighter is a common cue of high rank across cultures (see the stories in an order that was randomized by shuffling the Fiske, 1992 for review). During pilot-testing, children con- packs of story cards. (The text of all stories is available at sistently identified the crowned, throned character as the https://osf.io/4vezr/) “leader.” Each story began by describing a pair of novel groups Illustrations accompanied the spoken stories. For exam- (e.g., “These are the Zazzos and these are the Rookas”). All ple, the story about pushing featured an illustration of two the stories included two groups because one story talked arms in a t-shirt, pushing a character down. All the illustra- about the leader ousting an intruder from another group tions with the critical action were designed to avoid giving (see below). We introduced two groups in all conditions for Collabra: Psychology 3 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial consistency. In the illustrations accompanying the stories, Table 2. Parent’s response when asked about child’s each group wore shirts of a single color (See Figure 1). One ethnic background. character in each group was drawn wearing a crown and sit- Ethnic Valid ting on a throne. We did not explicitly label this character Frequency Percent Background Percent for the children, but for ease of reference we will hereafter refer to this character as ‘the leader.’ In Study 1, children Another Hispanic, heard four stories. Two stories described someone pushing 2 1.136 2.222 Latino, or another character down—in Story 1a, an in-group character Spanish Origin pushed another in-group character down (“Uh oh, one of the Asian 1 0.568 1.111 Wugs pushed another Wug down!”) We used in-group aggres- Cambodian- sion because in dominance-based hierarchies, dominant in- 1 0.568 1.111 Chinese dividuals often use unprovoked aggression toward in-group Central members to maintain rank. In Story 1b, an out-group char- 1 0.568 1.111 American acter pushed an in-group character down, and was ousted Colombian 1 0.568 1.111 from the group’s territory (“Uh oh, A Wug came and pushed Mexican/ one of the Flurps down! Look! The Wug is leaving, he got kicked Mexican- out.”) Here we used out-group aggression as a relatively 27 15.341 30.000 American/ straightforward case of protection. The other two stories Chicano involved a character stealing a cookie: In Story 1c, an in- Mexican/ group character stole a cookie from another in-group char- Mexican- acter ("Uh oh, one of the Koopas stole another Koopa’s cookie!) American/ (See Figure 3). We used an in-group transgression because Chicano; 2 1.136 2.222 Another high-ranking individuals often control resources in domi- Hispanic, nance-based hierarchies. In Story 1d, an out-group charac- Latino, or ter stole the cookie of an in-group character and was ousted Spanish Origin from the group’s territory ("Uh oh, a Koopa came and stole Mexican/ a cookie from one of the Zazzos. Look! The Koopa is leaving, Mexican- he got kicked out.") (See Figure 4). At the end of each story, American/ 2 1.136 1.111 Chicano; we asked the children to point at the character who they Peruvian thought did the action. Children’s answers were coded as Mexican/ ‘leader’ if they chose the character wearing the crown, and Mexican- ‘subordinate’ if they chose one of the other two characters. American/ 2 1.136 2.222 Children’s choices were recorded with pen and paper by the Chicano; experimenter administering the study, as well as by a sec- Puerto Rican ond experimenter who was observing and recording the ses- Mexican/ sion on video. They compared their recorded answers at the Mexican- American/ 1 0.568 1.111 end of each session. If their answers disagreed, a third ex- Chicano; perimenter decided the answer based on the video record- Guatemalan ing. Not Hispanic/ After the test trials came several control questions. We 45 25.568 50.000 Latino showed children an illustration of a new, novel group with Pakistan four characters and asked (1) "Who is in charge?" (2) "Who 1 0.568 1.111 Origin do you think is the nicest?" and (3) "Who would you most want Peruvian 1 0.568 1.111 to be friends with?" The first question served as a manipula- Spanish 3 1.705 3.333 tion check, to confirm that children saw the crowned char- No response 86 48.864 acter as a leader. The second and third questions checked whether children had an overall bias for or against choosing Total 176 100.000 the leader. Analysis Approach the questions that came after the stories about a target ac- tion (e.g., ‘pushing’), chance was ⅓ because children chose We analyzed the data using the ‘brms’ and ‘BayesFactor’ among three characters (one leader and two subordinates). packages in R (Bürkner, 2017; Morey et al., 2014; R Core For the control questions, chance was ¼ because children Team, 2017). When considering whether children chose the were choosing among four characters (one leader and three leader more or less often than the other characters, we used subordinates). We used default priors and these choices the function ‘ProportionBF’ in the Bayes Factor package to were decided before analysis was carried out. For ease of compare the likelihood of the data given the null hypothe- comparison with other published studies, we also use fre- sis, which was that children chose each character (Leader, quentist tests, using binom.test in R to do frequentist bino- Subordinate #1 and Subordinate #2) at the same rate, mial tests. against the alternative hypothesis that children chose the We used brms to test whether a child’s age and gender leader more or less often than the other characters. For predicted their answers to the questions that came at the Collabra: Psychology 4 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial Figure 1. Sets of illustrations used in Stories 1a and 1b in Study 1. [Left Panel] Illustrations used in Story A [Right Panel] Illustrations used in Story B. end of each story. Based on pilot data we decided to split include children that answered, "Who is in charge?" cor- children into two age groups. For alternative analyses treat- rectly. ing age as a continuous variable, see SM. For each of the Results and Discussion main test questions, we asked whether age (in two cate- gories: 3- to 5- year-olds and 6- to 8-year-olds) and gender Story 1a. “Who pushed someone down?” (as reported by the child’s parent), predicted children’s an- swers to the dependent measure questions. To do this, we When asked which in-group character pushed another used the R package brms (Bürkner, 2017) in R (R Core Team, in-group character down, children chose the subordinates 2017) to fit Bernoulli Bayesian regression models with age more often than the leader. Of the 176 children tested in group and gender as factors. We did not include interactions Study 1, only 38 (21.59%) guessed that the leader (i.e., the in the model and did not have random factors. We used de- crowned figure) pushed someone down, as opposed to the fault priors and used 6 sampling chains for 5000 iterations other two characters (BF=58.26 in favor of the alt. hypothe- with a warm-up period of 1000 iterations. In cases where sis that the children chose leader less than 1/3 of the time; we found evidence that children in the two age groups an- two-sided binomial test, where the null value was ⅓, swered the questions differently, we report the answers p<.001, see Figure 2). from children in the two age groups separately. See sup- We found inconclusive evidence as to whether gender in- plemental materials for results broken down by age group fluenced children’s answers (BF=1.36 in favor of a model and gender for all dependent variables. This analysis was that does not include gender). We found weak evidence that pre-registered (https://osf.io/p8q7g), but only after we con- age group influenced children’s answers (BF=3.11 in favor ducted a different analysis: During the review process, we of a model that does include age group, see SM for analysis realized our original analyses were flawed, and the authors treating age as continuous). had since taken up the practice of pre-registering all their Looking at the two age groups separately, we found in- analyses and studies. conclusive evidence as to whether younger children chose Following recommendations by Kass & Raftery, 1995, we the leader less frequently or as frequently as the other two consider Bayes Factors of over 10 as strong evidence, over characters: 25 out of 95 (26.3%) of the three- to five-year- 30 as very strong evidence, and over 100 as decisive evi- old children we tested chose the leader (BF=1.33 in favor dence, Bayes Factors between 3 and 10 are considered are of the null; p=.1037.) In contrast, we found strong evidence considered moderate, and Bayes Factors between 1/3 and that older children chose the leader less frequently: Only 3 are considered weak, inconclusive, or anecdotal. All data 13/81 (15.11%) of the 6 to 9-year-olds chose the leader and R scripts can be found on the open science framework. (BF=82.26 in favor of the alt. hypothesis that they chose In these analyses, we include all children who answered the the leader less than ⅓ of the time; p<.001). Thus, older questions in the analysis but see SM for analyses that only children seemed to think that the leader was less likely to Collabra: Psychology 5 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial Figure 2. Percentage of children who chose the leader. Children chose among three characters, so chance in this case was 1/3. * = BF >10, ** = BF >50, *** = BF >1000 10 10 10 push someone down. It is unclear from these data whether younger children shared this belief or not (see Figure 2). Story 1b. “Who kicked someone out for pushing?” When asked who ejected an out-group character for pushing an in-group character down, most children guessed it was the leader: 120 out of 176 (68.68%) children chose the leader (BF>1000 in favor of the alt. hypothesis; p<.001). We found inconclusive evidence as to whether children’s gen- der influenced their answers (BF=1.03 favor of a model that includes gender). We did find strong evidence in favor of a model that included age group (BF=340.34 in favor of a model that included age group). However, both age groups chose the leader more often than the other two characters: 54 out of 95 (56.84%) of 3 to 5-year-olds chose the leader (BF>1000 in favor of the alt. hypothesis, p<.001) and 66 out of 81 (81.48%) of the 6 to 8-year-olds chose the leader Figure 3. Illustration used in Story 1c where one of (BF>1000 in favor of the alt. hypothesis, p<.001). Thus, it the group members steals from another group seems that both younger and older children expect lead- member. ers to kick someone out for behaving in an antisocial way, suggesting that children see leaders as protecting in-group members from outside aggressors (see Figure 2). vor of a model that includes gender) or age group affected children’s answers (BF=1.04 in favor of a model that does Story 1c. “Who stole someone’s cookie?” not include age group). We found inconclusive evidence as to whether older children chose the leader or subordinate In Story 1c (see Figure 3), when an in-group member more frequently (22/81, 27%; BF=1.78 in favor of the null, stole another member’s cookie, we found inconclusive evi- p=0.288) and weak evidence that younger children chose the dence about children’s expectations: 50 out of 176 (28.44%) leader as frequently as a subordinate (28/95, 27%; BF=2.76 of the children chose the leader (BF=1.92 in favor of the in favor of the null; p=0.445). null; p=.174). We did find strong evidence against the idea that children chose the leader more often than the other Story 1d. “Who kicked someone out for stealing a characters (BF=29.14 in favor of the hypothesis that chil- cookie?” dren chose the leader either as often or less often than the other two characters). Thus, children do not think leaders In Story 1d (see Figure 4), we asked children who kicked are more likely than subordinates to steal a cookie, but they an intruder out for stealing a cookie. Here, as in Story 1b, may think that leaders are equally likely to do so. We found children were much more likely to choose the leader: 116 inconclusive evidence as to whether gender (BF=1.25 in fa- out of 176 (65.9%) chose the leader (BF>1000 in favor of the Collabra: Psychology 6 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial alternative, which is considered decisive evidence; p<.001). There was inconclusive evidence as to whether gender in- fluenced the children’s answers (BF=1.24 in favor of a model that did include gender). There was strong evidence that age group affected their answers to this question (BF=10.61 in favor of a model that included age group as a factor). Both age groups were much more likely to choose the leader than a subordinate when answering who kicked someone out for stealing a cookie: 56 out of 95 (57.75%) 3-to 5-year- olds chose the leader (BF>1000 in favor of the alternative; p<.001) and 60 out of 81 (74.00%) 6-to-9-year-olds chose the leader (BF>1000 in favor of the alternative; p<.001). Manipulation Check: Who is in charge? Figure 4. Illustration used in the story about one of After the children had answered the questions following the groups kicking someone out for stealing a the four stories, we checked whether they viewed the char- cookie. acter who was wearing a crown and sitting on a throne as the leader. To do this, we showed an illustration of a new group of characters and asked, “Who is in charge?” (For Control Question 2: Who would you rather be this question and the following two questions, the chil- friends with? dren chose among four characters, so the chance level of re- sponding was 25%.) Overall, children were much more likely Finally, we asked the children, “If you could be friends to choose the leader than the other three characters: 155 with anyone, who would you pick?” Here, children chose out of 176 (88.00%) children chose the crowned character the leader somewhat more frequently than the other char- (BF>1000 in favor of the alt. hypothesis; p<.001). acters. Of the 171 children who answered the question, 56 There was inconclusive evidence as to whether gender chose the leader (34.5%; BF=2.32 in favor of the alternative influenced children’s answers (BF= 1.22 in favor of a model hypothesis; p=.02). We found inconclusive evidence as to that does include gender), but there was strong evidence whether gender influenced children’s answers (BF=1.57 in that age group influenced children’s answers (BF=57.28 in favor of a model that does include gender). We found strong favor of a model that does include age group). However, evidence that age group affected children’s answer to this both younger and older children were more likely to choose question (BF=11.58 in favor of a model that does include the leader than the other three characters: 78 out of 95 age group). Older children chose the leader more often than (82.10%) 3- to 5-year-olds chose the leader (BF>1000 in fa- subordinates, 32/78 (41%) chose the leader (BF=21.43 in vor of the alternative; p<.001) and 77 out of 81 (95.01%) 6- favor of the alternative, p<.0015) while younger children to 9-year-olds chose the leader (BF>1000 in favor of the al- chose the leader as often as the subordinates (24/93 (24%); ternative; p<.001). BF=3.48 in favor of the null, p=.881). Control Question 1: Who is nicest? Study 2 Using the same picture, we also asked, children, “Who In Study 2 we checked whether children might be using do you think is the nicest?” Here, there was inconclusive cues in the illustration to answer the questions. Specifically, evidence that children chose each character equally often. children might have thought that the leader was less likely This suggests that children only chose the person wearing to push another character because the leader was sitting a crown and sitting on the throne in response to specific on a throne. Or they might think that the leader was more questions. Of the 170 children who answered this question, likely to eject the intruder because the leader was physically 49 chose the leader (28.8%) (BF=2.63 in favor of the null closer to the intruder than the other characters. In Study 2, that they chose the leader ¼ of the time). We found mod- children heard Stories 1a and 1b from Study 1, but we mod- erate evidence that age influenced children’s answers ified the pictures slightly so that the leader was on the right (BF=4.38 in favor of a model that does include age group) instead of the left side of the picture and stood next to the and inconclusive evidence as to whether gender did other characters instead of sitting on a throne (see Figure (BF=1.23 in favor of a model that does include gender). We 5). found inconclusive evidence as to whether older children chose the leader more often, 28/80 (35%) of them chose the Method leader (BF=1.68 in favor of the alt. hypothesis that children chose the leader more than ¼ of the time), and weak evi- Participants dence that younger children chose the leader as often as the other characters (28/80; 23%; BF=3.18 in favor of the null). In Study 2, we tested 175 children between the ages of 3 and 8 years old at the same Museum as in Study 1. We ex- cluded data from 17 children:10 because they did not an- swer one or more of the main test questions and the other 7 because a parent or someone else interrupted their testing Collabra: Psychology 7 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial session or because they had seen another child do the ex- periment prior to their testing session. This left 157 children in the sample (84 boys and 64 girls by parental report, 9 parents did not respond). The sample included 28 four-year-olds, 38 five-year-olds, 37 six-year- olds, 44 seven-year-olds, and 10 eight-year-olds. Our re- cruitment goal, decided before testing began, was to test at least 30 children each at ages four, five, six, and seven. In the end, we tested only 28 four-year-olds, because five 4-year-olds were excluded for failing to answer questions. See Table 3 and Table 4 for racial and ethnic background of the participants and SM for more details about the demo- graphics of the participants. Figure 5. Example illustration in Study 2 The leader Materials was moved to the right side of the illustration and is standing on the same level as the others. The materials were the same as in Study 1, except in Study 2 we began with an illustration where one character was wearing a crown, but this time the character stood next Table 3. Parent’s response when asked about child’s to the other characters and was on the left instead of the racial background Study 2. right side of the picture. Racial Valid Frequency Percent Procedure Background Percent American The procedure was the same as in Study 1, but children Indian Alaska 3 1.911 3.659 heard only Stories 1a and 1b–the stories where someone Native pushed someone else down. As in Study 1, children’s an- Asian 24 15.287 29.268 swers were coded as ‘leader’ if they chose the character Asian, white 9 5.732 10.976 wearing a crown, and ‘subordinate’ if they chose another Black African character. After the children heard the two stories and an- American, swered the questions, they were shown a new group of char- Native 1 0.637 1.220 acters and were again asked, ‘Who is in charge?’; ‘If you Hawaiian Other Pacific could be friends with anyone, who would you pick?’ and ‘Who Islander do you think is the nicest?’. The scripts for the stories and Black African all illustrations can be found on the Open Science Frame- American, 1 0.637 1.220 work page for this project, at https://osf.io/ white 4vezr/?view_only=ee2cc6f3154c4264bf0e6b36023b716d. Black/African 3 1.911 3.659 American Results and Discussion Native Hawaiian/ Story 1a. (Study 2) “Who pushed someone down?” 2 1.274 2.439 Pacific Islander When asked, ‘Who pushed someone down?’ as in Study White 39 24.841 47.561 1, in Study 2, children chose the leader less often than the No response 75 47.771 subordinates. However, this time we did not find strong evi- dence. Of the 157 children we tested in 38 children guessed Total 157 100.000 the leader (24.05%) (BF=4.22 in favor of the alt. hypothesis that the children chose the leader less than 1/3 of the time; olds chose the leader (BF=118 in favor of the alt. hypothesis two-sided binomial test, where the null value was ⅓, that they chose the leader less than ⅓ of the time, p<.001). p=.0143). Thus, as in Study 1, older children seemed to think that the There were effects of gender (BF=26.28 in favor of a leader is less likely to push someone down, while younger model that does include gender) and age group on chil- children did not. However, again, younger children did not dren’s answers (BF=46.12 in favor of a model that does in- think that leaders were more likely to push someone down. clude age group). These gender effects seems to be driven by the small group of children whose parents did not specify Story 1b. (Study 2) “Who kicked someone out for their child’s gender (see SM for break down). We found pushing someone down?” moderate evidence that the younger children chose leader as frequently as the other characters: 23 out of 66 of the When asked who kicked someone out, 102 out of 158 three- to five-year-old children we tested chose the leader children (64.56%) guessed the leader (BF>1000 in favor of (BF=3.32 in favor of the null hypothesis that the children the alt. hypothesis that the children chose the leader either chose the leader as frequently as the other two characters, more or less than 1/3 of the time; p<.001). p=.348). In contrast, only 15 out of 91 (16.48%) 6 to 8-year- Collabra: Psychology 8 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial We found weak evidence that children’s gender did influ- Table 4. Parent’s response when asked about child’s ence their answers (BF=2.35 in favor of a model that does ethinic background Study 2. include gender). We found strong evidence that children Ethnic in the two age categories answers this question differently Frequency Percent Valid Percent Background (BF=17.17 in favor of a model that included age group). Both age groups chose the leader more often than the other char- Another Hispanic, acters: 36 out of 66 (54.54%) 3- to 5-year-olds chose the Latino, or 8 5.096 10.127 leader (BF=82.04 in favor of the alt.; p<.001) and 66 out of Spanish 91 (72.5%) 6- to 8-year-olds chose the leader (BF>1000 in Origin favor of the alt. p<.001). East Indian 1 0.637 1.266 American Manipulation Check: Who is in charge Mexican/ Mexican- As in Study 1, after children answered the questions American about the two stories, we showed them an illustration of a Chicano, Another 1 0.637 1.266 new group and asked, “Who is in charge?” For this question Hispanic, and the two questions that followed, the children chose be- Latino, or tween four characters, so chance-level responding was 25% Spanish for each character. Overall, children were much more likely Origin to choose the leader than the other three characters: 143 Mexican/ out of 157 (91.13%) children chose the leader (BF>1000 in Mexican- 36 22.930 45.570 American/ favor of the alt. hypothesis; p<.001). Chicano There was an effect of children’s gender on their answers Not (BF= 6.43 in favor of a model that does not include gender), Hispanic/ 31 19.745 39.241 and an effect of age group (BF=57.87 in favor of a model that Latino does include age group). (See SM for breakdown of results South Asian 2 1.274 2.532 by gender). While both age groups chose the leader more No often than the other three characters, older children did so 78 49.682 response at even higher rates than younger children: 55 out of 66 Total 157 100.000 (83.33%) three-to-five-year-olds chose the leader (BF>1000 in favor of the alternative hypothesis, p<.001); 88 out of 91 (96.7%) six-to-eight-year-olds chose the leader (BF>1000 in Study 3 favor of the alternative hypothesis, p<.001). In Study 3, we investigated several follow-up questions Control Question 1: Who is nicest arising from Studies 1 and 2. For example, to what extent do children expect leaders to be protective? Do children expect When asked, 'Who do you think is the nicest?’ children leaders to put themselves in harm’s way to protect others? chose all characters equally often. Of the 155 children who Do children see leaders as generally more prosocial than answered this question, 38 chose the leader (25%; BF=4.37 subordinates? We included conditions to probe this ques- in favor of the null, p=1.0). We found inconclusive evidence tion because if children did expect leaders to be generally as to whether children’s gender affected their answers prosocial, then children’s expectations of leaders may not (BF=1.23 in favor of a model that does not include gender) stem from an understanding of specific roles based on rela- and weak evidence that younger and older children an- tive status (i.e., the leader’s job is to protect others), but in- swered the same way (BF=2.26 in favor of a model that does stead from an inference about traits of leaders (i.e., ‘leaders not include age group). are nice people’). Control Question 2: Who would you be friends with Method As in Study 1, we again asked, ‘If you could be friends Participants with anyone, who would you pick?’ Here we found weak ev- idence that children chose the leader as frequently as the We tested 212 children for Study 3. Of these, 21 children other characters. Of the 154 children who answered the were excluded: 16 for not answering one of the test ques- question, 45 chose the king (29.3%; BF=2.38 in favor of the tions, 4 because of interference from a parent or sibling, null, p=.293). We found weak evidence that age group in- and 1 because of experimenter error (the experimenter read fluenced children’s answers (BF=2.096) and strong evidence the same story twice). This left 191 children (87 boys, 100 that gender influenced children’s answers (BF>1000; See SM girls, by parent report; 5 were unreported,) to contribute for more details). However neither age group chose either , data to the analysis. This included 45 four-year-olds, 45 older children did so at even higher rates than younger chil- five-year-olds, 45 six-year-olds, 38 seven-year-olds and 18 dren: 21 out of 66 (33.33%) three-to-five-year-olds chose eight-year-olds. Again, our target age range was 4 to 7, and the leader (BF=1.24 in favor of the null ); 24 out of 90 we set out to test at least 30 children in each age range but (26.6%) six-to-eight-year-olds chose the leader (BF=3.09 in ended up with a larger sample size than planned. No data favor of the null hypothesis). Collabra: Psychology 9 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial analysis had been carried out before the end of data collec- Table 5. Parent’s response when asked about child’s tion. We decided to include all the children in the analyses. racial background Study 3. See Tables 5 and 6 below for participant race and ethnicity, Racial and SM for more demographic information. Frequency Percent Valid Percent Background Materials Asian 30 15.707 27.778 Asian, The Materials in Study 3 were similar to those in Studies Black/ 1 0.524 0.926 1 and 2 except that the illustrations depicting the key ac- African- American tions in each condition were modified. (See Figs. 6-10). Asian, Black/ Procedure African- 1 0.524 0.926 American, The procedure was the same as in Studies 1 and 2, except and white in Study 3 children heard six stories. The first of these sto- Asian, white 4 2.094 3.704 ries, Story 3a, was designed to test the extent to which chil- Black/ dren expect leaders to protect others. In this story, chil- African 4 2.094 3.704 dren heard about a character coming to intervene before American the intruder transgressed and helping that character (Uh- Black/ oh, A Wug is coming over to push one of the Flurps down! African 2 1.047 1.852 But one of the Flurps is coming to help the Flurp! Who do American, you think came to help the Flurp?). The next story, Story 3b, white was used to probe children’s reasoning for their answers in Native 1 0.524 0.926 Story 3a. In Story 3b, children were told that a character Hawaiian wanted to help someone who was being attacked but was white 65 34.031 60.185 too scared to do so (Someone wants to help the Blip, but Missing 83 43.455 they’re too scared. Which one do you think was too scared to Total 191 100.000 help?). Here we predicted that children would be less likely to choose the leader than a subordinate, since leaders are generally seen as stronger or braver than others. Stories 3c Results & Discussion and 3d were meant to test whether children thought leaders were more likely to be prosocial in general: children heard Story 3a: Who put themselves in harm’s way to about a character who helped another character who had protect another? fallen (Uh-oh, one of the Gaxas fell down! But look! Someone helped him up! Who do you think helped him up?) and in Story When, told, “Uh oh, A Wug is coming over to push one of 3d, heard about a character who shared a cookie with an- the Flurps down! But one of the Flurps is coming to help the other character (Look! All of the Phlams have a cookie except Flurp! Who do you came to help the Flurp?”, that is, when one! But Look! One of the Phlams is sharing his cookie! Who children were asked who they thought put themselves in do you think shared his cookie?). Again, we included these harm’s way to protect another (subordinate) individual (see stories to probe whether children might see high-ranking Figure 6), children did not choose the leader more often people as generally nicer or ‘good’ versus seeing them as than the others, which was not what we predicted. We found having a specific role because of their rank. Story 3e was inconclusive evidence about whether children chose the designed to test whether children expected leaders to en- leader less often than the other characters or whether they force norms (Look! One of the Larpies is wearing the wrong chose the leader as often as the other two characters: 53 shirt! Someone didn’t think it was ok, so he made him change out of 191 children (27.7%) chose the leader (BF=1.94 in fa- it back to the right one! See? Who do you think made him vor of the null.) We found weak evidence that age group change his shirt?). Story 3f was designed to probe the rea- affected children’s answers (BF=4.23 in favor of a model sons behind children’s answers in Story 3e, here someone that does include age group) and strong evidence for gender wanted to enforce the norm but did not (Look! One of the (BF=14.99 in favor of a model that does include gender, see Rookas is wearing the wrong shirt! One of the Rookas didn’t SM for details). We found positive evidence that older chil- think it was ok but didn’t say anything. Which one do you dren were at chance (31/101 of the older children chose the think didn’t say anything?). Again, we predicted that children leader; BF=3.33 in favor of the null), and inconclusive evi- would choose leaders more often in Story 3f and choose dence as to whether younger children chose the leader more subordinates more often in Story 3d. However, the results of frequently (22/90 of the younger children chose the leader, these last two conditions were inconclusive. BF=1.33 in favor of the alternative). As in Studies 1 and 2, at the end of Study 3, we again These responses differed from children’s responses to checked whether children saw the character wearing a the stories in Studies 1 and 2 where the leader ousted an in- crown and sitting on the throne as higher ranked using the truder who had already transgressed. In those studies, chil- same procedure as Studies 1 and 2. dren overwhelmingly chose the leader as the individual who ejected this outsider. However, it seems that this was not because children necessarily expect leaders to protect oth- Collabra: Psychology 10 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial ers, but because they expect them to expel anti-social in- Table 6. Parent’s response when asked about child’s truders. There were two key changes from Story 1a to Story ethnic background Study 3. 3a: in Story 1a, the action included ousting an intruder, Ethnic in Story 3a, the action involved intervention and ‘helping’, Frequency Percent Valid Percent Background thus it is not clear which of these elements led children to answer differently across the two stories. Indeed, chil- Another Hispanic, dren may have guessed that the leader expelled an intruder, Latino, or 1 0.524 1.136 whether the intruder did something anti-social or not be- Spanish fore being expelled. It should be noted that although these Orgin children were recruited from the same museum using the Another same methods, they were not the same children so these Hispanic, comparisons should be interpreted with caution (See SM for Latino, or 3 1.571 3.409 Spanish analyses that only include children that answered, ‘Who is Origin in charge?’ correctly). Argentinian 1 0.524 1.136 Story 3b: Who was too scared to help a Dutch 1 0.524 1.136 Indonesian subordinate? Latina 1 0.524 1.136 When children heard, “Uh oh, a Glup is coming over to Mexican/ push one of the Blips down! Someone wants to help the Blip, Mexican 37 19.372 42.045 American but they’re too scared. Which one do you think was too scared Chicano to help?”, children chose the leader less frequently than Mexican/ the other characters: 32 of the 191 (16.75%) children chose Mexican the leader (BF>1000 in favor of the alternative hypothesis, American p<.001). There was inconclusive evidence as to whether age Chicano/ group affected children’s answers (BF=1.08 in favor of a Another 1 0.524 1.136 model that does include age group) and weak evidence that Hispanic, Latino, or gender affected their answers (BF=2.32 in favor of model Spanish that does include gender). Of the 90 younger children who Origin answered this question, only 16 said the leader (BF=43. 16 Not in favor of the alternative); of the 101 older children, 16 Hispanic/ 42 21.990 47.727 chose the leader (BF=407 in favor of the alternative model). Latino Thus, it seems that children think that leaders are less likely Not than other characters to be ‘too scared’ to protect someone. Hispanic/ Latino, This suggests that children did indeed understand Story 3a. Mexican/ 1 0.524 1.136 Together with Story 3a, these results suggest that children Mexican- think of leaders as being braver than other characters but American not necessarily more likely to intervene before a transgres- Chicano sion has taken place. Missing 103 53.927 Total 191 100.000 Story 3c: Who helped someone who fell? When asked who helped someone who had fallen (See found inconclusive evidence as to whether age group af- Figure 7), children chose the leader less often than the other fected children’s answers (BF=0.94 in favor of a model that characters. Only 31/191 (16.23%) children said that the does not include age group); and weak evidence gender in- leader helped (BF>1000 in favor of the alternative; p<.001). fluenced their answers (BF=2.32 in favor of a model that Gender did have an effect on children’s answers (BF=56.77 does not include gender). Of the 90 younger children, 17 in favor of a model that does not include gender), as did age chose the leader, (BF=20.27 in favor of the alternative hy- group (BF=7.36 in favor of a model that does not include age pothesis; of the 101 older children, 19 chose the leader group as a factor). Of the 90 younger children, 17 chose the (BF=36.57 in favor of the alternative hypothesis). Thus, we leader, BF=20.17 in favor of the alternative model. Of the found strong evidence that both older and younger children 101 older children, 14 chose the leader, BF>1000 in favor of were less likely to choose the leader. the alternative model. Thus, we found strong evidence that both age groups were less likely to choose the leader than Story 3e: Who enforced a norm? the subordinates. When told, “Someone didn’t think it was ok, so he made Story 3d: Who shared their cookie? him change it back to the right one! See?” and asked, “Who do you think made him change his shirt?” (See Figure 9), When asked who shared their cookie (See Figure 8), chil- it is unclear whether children were choosing all characters dren chose the leader less often than the other characters: equally often or whether they chose the leader more often: Of the 191 children we tested, 36 (18.8%) chose the leader 74/191 (38.1%) of the children guessed the leader (BF=1.688 (BF>1000 in favor of the alternative hypothesis; p<.001). We Collabra: Psychology 11 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial in favor of the null hypothesis, which is considered incon- clusive evidence). There was inconclusive about whether age group influenced children’s answers (BF=1.35 in favor of a model that does not include age group as a factor), and positive evidence that gender also did influence children’s answers (BF=5.52 in favor a model that does not include gender as a factor; See SM for details). Story 3f: Who wanted to, but did not enforce a norm? When the children were told, “One of the Rookas is wear- ing the wrong shirt! One of the Rookas didn’t think it was ok, but didn’t say anything.” and were asked, “which one do you think didn’t say anything?” (See Figure 10), it is unclear whether children chose the leader equally often or less than Figure 6. Illustration used in Stories 3a and 3b: the other characters: of the 191 we tested, 51 (26.7%) chose where one character helps a subordinate who gets the leader (BF=1.25 in favor of the alternative which is con- attacked, and one where someone wants to help sidered inconclusive evidence; p=.041.) There was inconclu- with the intruder but was too scared. (The shirt sive evidence as to whether age group affected children’s colors of the characters were different across two answers (BF=1.16 in favor of a model that does not include stories) age group as a factor) and moderate evidence gender influ- enced their answers (BF=8.00 in favor of a model that does include gender as a factor). Manipulation Check: Who is in charge (Study 3) After the children had answered the questions for all four stories, we again checked to make sure they viewed the character who was wearing a crown and sitting on a throne as having higher rank than the other characters. When asked who was in charge, children were much more likely to choose the crowned character than the other three (161/191; 84.2% children chose the leader; BF>1000 in favor of the alternative; p<.001). There was positive evidence that gender did influence children’s answers (BF=9.93 in favor of a model that does include gender). We did find that age group predicted whether children guessed who was in charge correctly (BF>1000 in favor of a model that does in- clude age groups). Both groups showed the effect, it was just more pronounced in older children. Of the 101 six- to eight- Figure 7. Illustration used in Story 3c about year-olds we tested 95 (94%) chose the leader (BF>1000; someone coming to help someone up. p<.001); while 66 out of 90 (77%) of three to five-year-old children chose the leader (BF>1000; p<.001). Control Question 2: Who would you be friends Control Question 1: Who is nicest? (Study 3) with? (Study 3) Unlike in Studies 1 and 2, children in this study were less Here, children chose the leader as often as the other likely to choose the leader when asked who was ‘the nicest’ characters: 55/191 (28.79%) chose the king (BF=2.59 in fa- than the other characters: 33/191 (17.2%) chose the leader; vor of the null); There was positive but weak evidence about BF=5.51 in favor of the alternative hypothesis; p=.012. We whether age group influenced children’s answers (BF=2.51 found weak evidence that age group did influence children’s in favor of a model that did include age group); positive evi- answers (BF=2.18 in favor of a model that does not include dence that gender did influence children’s answers (BF=5.36 age group as a factor), as did gender (28 in favor of a model in favor of a model that did not include gender). When look- that does include gender as a factor). Both groups showed ing at the different age ranges, there wasn’t strong evi- the effect, it was just more pronounced in older children. dence in either age group about whether children favored Only six- to eight-year-olds showed a preference for the the leader or were choosing them at the same rate as the subordinates we tested 15 (14%) chose the leader (BF=5.15 other characters. 21/89 (23.33%) of the younger children in favor of the alt; p<.001); while 18 out of 72 (25%) of three chose the leader (3.19 in favor of the null) and 34/101 to five-year-old children chose the leader (BF=1.848 in favor (33.63%) of the older children chose the leader (BF=1.41 in of the null). favor of the alternative hypothesis; p=.054). Collabra: Psychology 12 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial General Discussion Children in this study did have certain expectations about the behavior of leaders, at least in this context in which rank was cued using a crown and throne (Studies 1 and 3) or only a crown (Study 2). Children expected leaders to provide at least one benefit – kicking out an intruder who has done something antisocial (Stories 1b and 1d). Children did not seem to expect leaders to be more randomly aggres- sive than subordinates: In Studies 1 and 2 (Story 1a), three- to five-year-old children thought that a leader was no more likely than a subordinate to push someone down, and older children thought the leader was less likely to do so. These expectations did not depend on the placement of the leader Figure 8. Illustration used 3d about somebody on a throne, nor on their physical placement in the ac- sharing a cookie companying drawing (Study 2). These findings are interest- ing considering how dominance hierarchies often work in non-human primates. In many primate species, dominant individuals commit unprovoked aggressive acts on subor- dinates, which is thought to help the dominant individual maintain rank without engaging in more costly fights (Silk, 2003). This is echoed in the behavior of high-ranking people in human dominance hierarchies, where position is main- tained through aggression or fear (Cheng & Tracy, 2014). For the children in this study, it seems that being ‘in charge,’ did not mean being more likely to commit unpro- voked aggression. In fact for older children, it meant being less likely to do so. The difference we found between younger and older children’s expectations aligns with de- velopmental changes found in other studies. Gülgoz and Figure 9. Illustration used in story 3e and 3f, about Gelman (2016) found that younger children did not ac- enforcing norms. (The main color of the shirts was knowledge benevolent power (interactions that benefitted different for these two stories) the lower-ranking individual) as a cue of who was ‘in charge’, while older children did. In our study, only older children thought that leaders were less likely to commit un- in harm’s way to protect a subordinate, and they did not at- provoked acts of aggression. Thus, there may be a general tribute this behavior to the leader being afraid. There were trend in which older children see leaders as more benevo- two key changes across Stories 1a and 3a – In Story 1a, lent. the action only included ousting an intruder, in Story 3a, As with any null finding in a study with young children, the action involved intervention and ‘helping’, thus it is not one must ask whether the young children in this study un- clear which of these elements led children to answer differ- derstood what we were asking or whether they answered ently across the two stories. One possibility is that the in- randomly. It is possible the younger children answered this tuition driving children’s choices in Studies 1 and 2 (where question randomly, but these younger children did identify children identified the leader as the one who ousted an an- the leader correctly when asked who was in charge, and they tisocial intruder) was not the intuition that leaders pro- did choose the leader more often when asked who kicked an tect their subordinates but rather that leaders protect their intruder out. So, they did have some expectations about the group, or that they punish anti-social individuals. roles of leaders and subordinates, which they were able to Likewise in Study 3, children chose the leader less often express in this study. We take these results to mean that al- than the other characters when asked who helped someone though it might be easier for younger children to identify up (Story 3c), and when asked who shared a cookie (Story malevolent leaders as being in charge, they do not necessar- 3d). In other words, children’s responses to those questions ily expect leaders to be randomly aggressive. implied that they considered leaders less likely to be proso- However, neither did children in our study seem to ex- cial. This aligns with recent work in which young children pect complete benevolence from leaders. When we told and adults associate higher social rank with indifference to children that a character helped another character by other people’s needs (Terrizzi et al., 2020). putting themselves in harm’s way to protect others (Story Unlike previous studies, we found mixed evidence as to 3a), children did not choose the leader. This was not be- whether children expect leaders to enforce norms. In Stud- cause children did not understand this story: when told that ies 1 and 2 they did expect leaders to oust anti-social in- someone wanted to help a subordinate but was too scared truders. However, when told that one of the subordinates to do so, children chose the leader less often than the oth- wore the wrong-colored shirt and someone made them ers (Story 3b). Thus, children did not judge that a leader change it, we found inconclusive evidence as to whether would be more likely than other people to put themselves children chose the leader as frequently or more frequently Collabra: Psychology 13 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial than the other characters (Story 3e). This diverges from leadership to become more culturally divergent with age, as other work on the topic (Gülgöz & Gelman, 2016; Zhao & children gain more experience with their specific culture. Kushnir, 2018). It is possible that the mixed findings in our Overall, these findings provide evidence that children as study were due to the norm violation of wearing the wrong- young as four have expectations of differing behavior by colored shirt being not severe enough to elicit this expec- leaders and subordinates. Whereas previous studies showed tation. Moreover, the norm in our study was implied rather that children can infer who is in charge from various cues, than stated, and thus may have been difficult for the chil- the current studies show that children have expectations dren to recognize. about how those in charge will treat others. In some ways, Future research could explore several questions raised children’s expectations align with how high-ranking people by the limitations of these studies. The first is whether the act in prestige-based hierarchies: Children do not expect expectations we found in this study would also be found leaders to behave like bullies, and they do expect them to if social rank was presented in other ways. Here, rank was provide the benefit of ousting anti-social intruders. In other manipulated by having the leader look like a prototypical ways, however, children’s expectations did not align with king or queen: The character wore a crown, and in Studies accounts of prestige-based hierarchies–although children 1 and 3 they sat on a throne. We chose these cues because expected leaders to be braver than subordinates, children children recognize them and easily identify the crowned, did not expect leaders to put themselves in harm’s way to throned character as being ‘in charge.’ These children’s in- protect others. Moreover, they did not expect leaders to be tuitions about royalty undoubtedly are influenced by fic- more helpful or generous than subordinates. In fact, they tional depictions, such as those in movies and books. Future expected the opposite. Future studies can build on these research could test whether children have similar intuitions findings, further probing the intricacies of children’s think- about high-status people whose rank is not associated with ing about high-ranking individuals–people to whom they royalty. will, throughout their lives, pay a great deal of attention. Future research could also ask how children explain the actions of leaders and subordinates. For example, children might think that if a leader is aggressive, the aggression must provide a benefit to the group. If so, this would pro- Contributions vide evidence for sophisticated reasoning about the roles Contributed to conception and design: AJT, SNH, BWS of leaders in social groups. Moreover, future research could Contributed to acquisition of data: AJT, ES, SNH Con- explore why we found different answers when we asked tributed to analysis and interpretation of data: AJT, ES children who ‘kicked out an intruder’ and who helped a sub- Drafted and/or revised the article: AJT, SNH, ES, BWS Ap- ordinate who was the target from an intruder’s imminent proved the submitted version for publication: AJT, SNH, ES, transgression. Another important direction for future re- BWS search will be to learn how children’s own experiences with social hierarchy affect how they expect leaders to act. There Competing Interests is a hierarchical element to children’s relationships with peers, siblings, teachers, and parents, but in each of those The authors have no competing interests. relationships higher-ranking individuals likely act in differ- ent ways. Moreover, since expectations about leaders vary Data Accessibility Statement across cultural contexts, one major limitation of this work is that the population we tested was specific to families All data in the manuscript as well as code is available on visiting a museum in one geographic area. These findings the Open Science Framework: https://osf.io/4vezr/ may not generalize across cultures or populations. Future work could investigate how children in different cultural Submitted: April 06, 2021 PDT, Accepted: March 29, 2022 PDT contexts, considered both on large and small scales, expect leaders to act. In as much as there are culturally variable views on leadership, we might expect children’s views on This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CCBY-4.0). 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Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 165, 101–116. https://d oi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2017.04.004 Collabra: Psychology 16 Children Expect Leaders to Oust Intruders, Refrain From Unprovoked Aggression, but Not to Be Generally Prosocial Supplementary Materials Peer Review History Download: https://collabra.scholasticahq.com/article/33956-children-expect-leaders-to-oust-intruders-refrain-from- unprovoked-aggression-but-not-to-be-generally-prosocial/attachment/ 86510.docx?auth_token=gpnjjxqGESd55ulcUyA8 Supplemental Material Download: https://collabra.scholasticahq.com/article/33956-children-expect-leaders-to-oust-intruders-refrain-from- unprovoked-aggression-but-not-to-be-generally-prosocial/attachment/ 86511.pdf?auth_token=gpnjjxqGESd55ulcUyA8 Collabra: Psychology
Collabra Psychology – University of California Press
Published: Apr 25, 2022
Keywords: social relationships; development; prestige; dominance; social hierarchy
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