Previous research has consistently demonstrated age differences in cooperative, competitive, and individualistic social decision making. The present studies were designed to demonstrate that these age differences may result from the development of the requisite information-processing capabilities and social/situational factors. It was hypothesized that the limited information-processing systems of young children place constraints upon the social decisions available, but making a specific social decision was dependent upon sociocultural factors which influence the salience of aspects of the social situation or the expected contingencies of each social decision. Study 1 assessed the social decision making of 3- to 11-year-olds in two forms of a decision-making task (designed to manipulate the information processing demands of key social decisions) under two instructional sets (designed to manipulate the expected reward contingencies of key social decisions). Study 2 assessed the social decision making of 3- to 12-year-olds toward close friends or acquaintances (designed to manipulate the expected social contingencies) in the same two forms of the decision-making task. Age, the task form manipulation, and the social/situational manipulation influenced social decision making in each study in a manner consistent with the theoretical perspective A cognitive social learning interpretation, and the implications for the cognitive developmental influence upon social behavior, are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology