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Social Exclusion in Childhood: A Developmental Intergroup Perspective


  • [Corrections added on 1/18/2013 after first online publication 11/21/2012: The Olson, Dweck, Spelke, & Banaji (2011) citation on page 12 should be: Newheiser, A., & Olson, K. R. (2012). White and Black children's implicit intergroup bias. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 264–270. On page 13, the Olson et al. (2011) citation should be: Olson, K. R., Shutts, K., Kinzler, K. D., & Weisman, K. G. (2012). Children associate racial groups with social class: Evidence from South Africa. Child Development, 83, 1884–1899.]

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Melanie Killen, Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, University of Maryland, 3304 Benjamin Building, College Park, MD 20742. Electronic mail may be sent to,, or


Interpersonal rejection and intergroup exclusion in childhood reflect different, but complementary, aspects of child development. Interpersonal rejection focuses on individual differences in personality traits, such as wariness and being fearful, to explain bully–victim relationships. In contrast, intergroup exclusion focuses on how in-group and out-group attitudes contribute to social exclusion based on group membership, such as gender, race, ethnicity, culture, and nationality. It is proposed that what appears to be interpersonal rejection in some contexts may, in fact, reflect intergroup exclusion. Whereas interpersonal rejection research assumes that victims invite rejection, intergroup exclusion research proposes that excluders reject members of out-groups to maintain status differences. A developmental intergroup social exclusion framework is described, one that focuses on social reasoning, moral judgment, and group identity.