Social Development

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Volume 3 Issue 2 (July 1994), Pages 89-188

Information‐seeking during acquaintanceship: Effects of level of social understanding and personal relevance (pages 89-107)


Two studies examined how individual differences in social understanding influence children's information‐seeking orientations during an initial meeting with a peer, in which they do or do not anticipate future interaction. Study 1 involved a relatively controlled, laboratory setting in which 7‐9 year old children were presented a list of questions from which to choose what to ask the peer. The findings indicate that children who view a person's behavior in terms of stable dispositional characteristics (high SDC), express greater interest in gathering trait‐related information about an unfamiliar peer than children who do not perceive people in terms of stable traits (low SDC), but only when they expect to play games with that peer in a future interaction. Study 2 involved a more naturalistic observation of the actual questions 7‐9 year old children ask during an initial meeting with an unfamiliar peer. The findings showed that high SDC children asked more questions of the peer when they expected interaction than when they did not, whereas low SDC children did not differ significantly across conditions. Taken together, the two studies indicate that the future, predictability orientation of high SDC children leads to a more extensive information search about a peer when they expect interaction with that peer involving instrumental choices.

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