Social dominance in preschool classrooms

J Comp Psychol. 2007 Feb;121(1):54-64. doi: 10.1037/0735-7036.121.1.54.


The authors examined preschoolers' aggressive and cooperative behaviors and their associations with social dominance. First and as predicted, directly observed aggressive interactions decreased across the school year, and same-sex aggression occurred more frequently than cross-sex aggression. Next, the authors examined the relation between aggression and reconciliation, cooperation, and social display variables. Teacher ratings of children's aggression related to observed aggression but not to observed "wins" of aggressive bouts. Instead, wins were related to cooperation and display variables. Finally, they examined the relative power of wins and cooperation in predicting 2 measures of social dominance. After age was controlled, wins alone predicted teacher-rated social dominance. Results are discussed in terms of different forms of competition and how school ethos affects these forms.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Competitive Behavior
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Power, Psychological
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Dominance*
  • Socialization