Confounding effects of individualism in children's cooperation - Competition social motive measures

George P. Knight, Spencer Kagan, Raymond Buriel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The exact nature of cooperation - competition differences among children has remained obscure because the effect of individualistic motivation has important but unanalyzed influence on the frequency of cooperative and competitive responding. In order to clarify the nature of cultural differences in cooperation - competition, a novel social motive game was developed that provides distinct cooperative, competitive, and individualist alternatives. The measure was administered to 120 fourth-through sixth-grade Anglo-American and Mexican-American children of lower- and upper-middle-income levels. Consistent with previous research, Mexican-American children were generally more cooperative than Anglo-American children. Contrary to previous conclusions, however, individualism, not competition, was the strongest social motive among children, and Anglo-American children were generally more individualistic but not generally more competitive than Mexican-American children. Culture findings challenge both the methods and the results of previous cooperation - competition studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-178
Number of pages12
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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