SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 7.1: Shahaeian, A. (2015). Sibling, family, and social influences on children’s theory of mind understanding: New evidence from diverse intracultural samples. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 46, 805–820.

Learning Objective: 7.5: Describe information-processing abilities during early childhood.

Abstract: Although a considerable body of research with samples from Western cultures shows that having siblings influences children’s theory of mind (ToM) understanding, research with samples from other cultures does not always support such findings. The current experiment was designed to examine in detail how family and social environment influence ToM competence in a group of Iranian children from various socioeconomic backgrounds. The participants were 142 preschoolers (4-5 years old) from high-SES (socioeconomic status) urban (n = 33), low-SES urban (n = 37), and rural villages (n = 72). The results failed to show any significant differences between children’s scores on ToM measures among the three subsamples, despite the differences between the number of siblings and playmates and the divergent family backgrounds and social experiences of these children. As such, no significant correlation was found between the number of siblings or playmates these children had and their ToM understanding. However, the number of days children spent playing with peers, and the level of parental interference in siblings’ conflicts, was correlated with children’s ToM understanding. The implications of these results are discussed.

Description: The article discusses cross-cultural research on sibling influence on children’s theory of mind understanding.

Journal Article 7.2: Starmans, C., & Bloom, P. (2016). When the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak: Developmental differences in judgments about inner moral conflict. Psychological Science, 27, 1498–1506.

Learning Objective: 7.5: Contrast social learning and cognitive-developmental perspectives on moral development in early childhood.

Abstract: Sometimes it is easy to do the right thing. But often, people act morally only after overcoming competing immoral desires. How does learning about someone’s inner moral conflict influence children’s and adults’ moral judgments about that person? Across four studies, we discovered a striking developmental difference: When the outcome is held constant, 3- to 8-year-old children judge someone who does the right thing without experiencing immoral desires to be morally superior to someone who does the right thing through overcoming conflicting desires—but adults have the opposite intuition. This developmental difference also occurs for judgments of immoral actors: Three- to 5-year-olds again prefer the person who is not conflicted, whereas older children and adults judge that someone who struggles with the decision is morally superior. Our findings suggest that children may begin with the view that inner moral conflict is inherently negative, but, with development, come to value the exercise of willpower and self-control.

Description: This research offers an interesting sidebar to the discussion of moral development by zeroing in on developmental changes among preschool children in beliefs about moral conflict.

Journal Article 7.3: Broe, B. H., Manetti, M., Frattini, L. & Ramia, N., et al. (2014). Successful transition to elementary school and the implementation of facilitative practices specified in the Reggio-Emilia philosophy. School Psychology International, 35, 447–462.

Learning Objective: 7.6: Identify and explain various approaches to early childhood education.

Abstract: Systematic, mandated facilitation of school transitions is an important but understudied aspect of the Reggio-Emilia approach to early childhood education admired internationally as best practice. We studied the links between Northern Italian transition practices and academic achievement, school liking, cooperativeness, and problem behaviors. We followed 288 students across a transition from preschool to elementary school. Schools varied in their implementation of transition practices. High implementation of Reggio-type transition practices was related to significantly more school liking and significantly fewer problem behaviors after the transition. At follow-up at the end of the post-transition year, high-implementation schools were still characterized by lower levels of problem behavior. These data indicate that the facilitation of school transitions in the Reggio-Emilia tradition is associated with successful post-transition adjustment.

Description: This article describes the Reggio-Emilia approach to early childhood education and explains how practices inspired by the approach may facilitate the transition to elementary school. The article adds to the textbook’s discussion of child-centered programs by highlighting the Reggio-Emilia approach as another example of such problems, in addition to the Montessori approach outlined in the text.