Behavioral and social cognitive processes in preschool children's social dominance



This longitudinal, naturalistic study addressed behavioral and social cognitive processes implicated in preschool children's social dominance. In the first objective, we examined the degree to which peer aggression, affiliation, and postaggression reconciliation predicted social dominance across a school year. Consistent with predictions, all three predicted dominance early in the year while only affiliation predicted dominance later in the year, suggesting that aggression, affiliation, and reconciliation were used to establish social dominance where affiliation was used to maintain it. In the second, exploratory, objective we tested the relative importance of social dominance and reconciliation (the Machiavellian and Vygotskian intelligence hypotheses, respectively) in predicting theory of mind/false belief. Results indicated that social dominance accounted for significant variance, beyond that related to reconciliation and affiliation, in predicting theory of mind/false belief status. Results are discussed in terms of specific behavioral and social cognitive processes employed in establishing and maintaining social dominance. Aggr. Behav. Aggr. Behav. 37:248–257, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.