Children’s Group Nous: Understanding and Applying Peer Exclusion Within and Between Groups


  • Part of this research was funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council, Grant R000230401. We are grateful to anonymous reviewers and to Drew Nesdale, Lindsey Cameron, and John Levine for suggestions and comments that contributed to the ideas developed in this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Dominic Abrams, Centre for the Study of Group Processes, Department of Psychology, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NP, United Kingdom. Electronic mail may be sent to


In Study 1, 167 English children aged 6–8 or 9–11 evaluated peer English or French soccer fans that were loyal or partially disloyal. In Study 2, 149 children aged 5–11 made judgments about generic inclusion norms between and within competitive groups. In both studies, children’s understanding of intergroup inclusion/exclusion norms (group nous) was predicted by theory of social mind (a social perspective taking measure) but not multiple classification skill. In Study 2, the number of groups children belonged to (an index of peer group experience) also predicted group nous. Supporting the developmental subjective group dynamics model (D. Abrams, A. Rutland, & L. Cameron, 2003), children’s experience and perspective taking help them make sense of inter- and intragroup inclusion and exclusion.