The Effects of Preschool Girls' and Boys' Help-seeking on Adult Evaluations of Dyadic Problem-solving

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Journal of Language and Social Psychology


Children's help seeking is ubiquitous in dyadic problem solving and fundamental to theories of scaffolded intellectual development. However, little is known about possible effects of variation in help seeking on adult perceptions. This was investigated by having adults evaluate preschoolers' ability, achievement expectation, and motivation during a challenging task, unaware that the children were matched in performance, strategy, and language ability, but differed only by gender and help seeking. Girls and high-help-seeking children were judged as less capable and less confident. Child gender and help seeking interacted, whereby girls high in help seeking were rated as less capable and confident than all other children. Although girls were rated as more motivated, gender and help-seeking level interacted. High-help-seeking girls were rated as lower in motivation than low-help-seeking girls, whereas the reverse was found for boys. Gender differences in pragmatic development important to adult-child problem-solving discourse are discussed.


† indicates Undergraduate Student