This study presents a novel task examining young children's affective responses to evaluative feedback-specifically, social acceptance and rejection-from peers. We aimed to determine (1) whether young children report their affective responses to hypothetical peer evaluation predictably and consistently, and (2) whether young children's responses to peer evaluation vary as a function of temperamental shyness and gender. Four- to seven-year-old children (N = 48) sorted pictures of unknown, similar-aged children into those with whom they wished or did not wish to play. Computerized peer evaluation later noted whether the pictured children were interested in a future playdate with participants. Participants then rated their affective responses to each acceptance or rejection event. Children were happy when accepted by children with whom they wanted to play, and disappointed when these children rejected them. Highly shy boys showed a wider range of responses to acceptance and rejection based on initial social interest, and may be particularly sensitive to both positive and negative evaluation. Overall, the playdate task captures individual differences in affective responses to evaluative peer feedback and is potentially amenable to future applications in research with young children, including pairings with psychophysiological measures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)