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Title:Reasoning about leadership in infancy
Author(s):Stavans, Maayan
Director of Research:Baillargeon, Renée
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baillargeon, Renée
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Fisher, Cynthia; Cohen, Dov; Cimpian, Andrei; Telzer, Eva
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Three experiments investigated infants’ understanding of authority-based asymmetrical relations and in particular asked whether infants possess expectations about how leaders will act towards subordinates. I presented infants with live events involving interactions between three puppets of the same kind (or from the same social group). Infants watched either a leader (authority condition) or a target-subordinate (no-authority condition) interact with two other subordinates (all three subordinates were of equal status). In Experiments 1 and 2, the leader or target-subordinate made two toys available to the two subordinates, but one selfishly took them both. I found that 16- to 18-month-old infants expected the leader to rectify, as opposed to ignore, this transgression (i.e., taking more than one’s share). Infants held no particular expectations about the target-subordinate’s response in the same situation. This result held regardless of how leadership was marked (Experiment 1: physical size; Experiment 2: control over others’ actions). In Experiment 3, a single toy was requested by two subordinates, though one had had several turns at playing with it prior to the other subordinate’s arrival. I found that 20- to 24-month-old infants expected the leader to regulate the use of this limited resource fairly, by handing the toy to the subordinate with no previous turns at playing with it. Infants held no expectations about the target-subordinate’s actions in the same situation. This pattern, however, was found only in infants who attended daycare and presumably had more experience with authority figures regulating turn-taking. Together, these experiments suggest that infants within the second year of life (1) are sensitive to authority-based asymmetrical social relations and (2) already have differential expectations about how a leader versus an equal-status group member will act in situations that could violate group harmony. These findings also indicate that relevant social experiences may be needed to support the emergence of some of these expectations.
Issue Date:2016-11-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Maayan Stavans
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-03-01
Date Deposited:2016-12

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