Psychophysiological and Behavioral Evidence for Varying Forms and Functions of Nonsocial Behavior in Preschoolers



Four-year-old children showing low levels of social behavior in a laboratory play session with unfamiliar peers were classified as reticent (unoccupied or onlooking behaviors) or solitary-passive (solitary constructive or exploratory play). Compared with a group of more social children, the children in both low-social groups were rated high on maternal reports of shyness and displayed a pattern of right frontal EEG asymmetry. However, only the reticent group was elevated on measures indicative of a fearful temperament, both concurrently and retrospectively. A subset of children in the solitary-passive group showed increasing levels of reticent behavior over the course of the visit, suggesting that for some children solitary-passive behaviors provide a means for coping with feelings of unease.