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Conformity to Peer Pressure in Preschool Children


  • We are indebted to Nadja Richter for her extraordinary coordination and support during all stages of this project. We are grateful to Constanze Weiske, Juliane Dauksch, Christiane Markmann, Martina Wittig, Stefanie Voigt, Kristin Schotte, and Franziska Kröbel for their assistance and the children, caretakers and kindergarten teachers for their support. We also extend thanks to Hannes Rakoczy, Jonathan Beier, Bridget Waller, Katja Liebal and Yvonne Rekers for guidance. This research was funded by the Max Planck Society.

concerning this article should be addressed to Daniel Haun, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Research Group for Comparative Cognitive Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany. Electronic mail may be sent to


Both adults and adolescents often conform their behavior and opinions to peer groups, even when they themselves know better. The current study investigated this phenomenon in 24 groups of 4 children between 4;2 and 4;9 years of age. Children often made their judgments conform to those of 3 peers, who had made obviously erroneous but unanimous public judgments right before them. A follow-up study with 18 groups of 4 children between 4;0 and 4;6 years of age revealed that children did not change their “real” judgment of the situation, but only their public expression of it. Preschool children are subject to peer pressure, indicating sensitivity to peers as a primary social reference group already during the preschool years.