Do kids prefer playmates of same ethnicity?

Multicultural daycares don't necessarily foster a desire for kids of visibly different ethnicities to play together. A study on Asian-Canadian and French-Canadian preschoolers has found these children may have a preference to interact with kids of their own ethnic group.

Led by researchers from Concordia University and the University of Montreal, the findings are published in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology.

"We found Asian-Canadian and French-Canadian children seemed to prefer interacting with kids of the same ," says Nadine Girouard, a research associate in the Concordia Department of Psychology and member of the Centre for Research in Human Development (CRDH). "Both groups were more interactive with children of the same ethnicity and, when matched with from another background, preferred solitary play."

This study builds on previous investigations that have shown preschoolers prefer to play with children of the same ethnic group. The research team also observed how multicultural playmates could influence among of the same ethnicity — findings that contradict previous studies.

"We observed that Asian-Canadian children frequently removed or attempted to remove toys from each other," explains Girouard. "When interacting with peers of the same , Asian-Canadian pre-schoolers were more competitive."

Participants were recruited from six daycares located in Montreal and its suburbs: 30 mostly, second-generation Asian-Canadians and 30 French-Canadians. Children were paired with peers they had known for at least three months. According to the research team, social mores likely prompted a lack of interaction between cultures.

French-Canadian children used longer sentences when interacting with same-ethnic peers, yet decreased their verbal interactions when playing with Asian-Canadian peers. "Children of both groups adapted their behaviours by speaking less in the case of French-Canadian children and by speaking more in the case of Asian-Canadian ," says coauthor Dale Stack, a professor in the Concordia Department of Psychology and CRDH member.

"Consistent with some past research, self-expression and social initiation are highly valued in Canadian culture, self-restraint and cooperation may be more important in Chinese and Asian-Canadian culture and this has an impact on multicultural peer interactions," she continues.

Coauthor Monica O'Neill-Gilbert, a retired University of Montreal psychology professor, says the findings could prove important for new Asian-Canadian families during acculturation.

More information: The paper, "Ethnic differences during social interactions of preschoolers in same-ethnic and cross-ethnic dyads," is published in European Journal of Developmental Psychology.

Provided by Concordia University

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

BMI differences: The immigrant equation

May 05, 2011

(Edmonton) The obesity problem plaguing Canadians is a story heard frequently these days. For Katerina Maximova, making connections between the rising body mass index, or BMI, among native-born Canadian versus immigrant children ...

Rebels without applause: New study on peer victimization

Sep 28, 2010

Loners and antisocial kids who reject other children are often bullied at school - an accepted form of punishment from peers as they establish social order. Such peer victimization may be an extreme group response to control ...

Recommended for you

Social ties matter beyond bushfires

2 hours ago

In the first major release of findings from the Beyond Bushfires study of the aftermath of the Black Saturday bushfires, researchers from the University of Melbourne have been able to show the social element ...

Mom's prenatal hardship turns baby's genes on and off

3 hours ago

In January 1998 five days of freezing rain collapsed the electrical grid of the Canadian province of Québec. The storm left more than 3 million people without electricity for anywhere from a few hours to ...

Smoking rates high among people with psychotic illness

3 hours ago

The rate of smoking among people in Adelaide's northern suburbs who suffer from a psychotic illness is much greater than the national average and is contributing to other major health problems, according to new research from ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dutchman
not rated yet Jun 22, 2011
That's because there are so few Asian-Canadian Hip-Hop stars

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.