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Cultural Differences in Children's Collaborative Processes


This study examined cultural differences in children's collaborative processes and explored the relationship between these collaborative processes and the children's collaboration in household work. 30 6- to 10-year-old sibling pairs from Mexican-heritage and middle-class European-heritage backgrounds participated in the study. Home visits were conducted using a planning task where dyads planned five grocery-shopping trips using a model store, first creating individual plans and then working together to create a combined plan. After participants completed their individual plans, the research assistant asked them to work together and help each other to make the shortest route to pick up all the items on their shopping list. Using 10-second segments, data were coded in four main categories; fluid ensemble, coming to agreement, one child leads activity, or dividing separate roles (which had several subcategories). Mexican Indigenous-heritage siblings collaborated as an ensemble in a higher proportion of segments than middle-class European-heritage siblings, who spent more segments dividing roles. Specifically, when European-heritage pairs were dividing roles they spent a higher proportion of segments being bossy to their sibling with the sibling implementing their plan, and ignoring their sibling while working on the plan. There was a positive relationship between siblings' collaboration at home and collaboration in the planning task. Siblings who were reported to collaborate with initiative in household work, based on mothers' reports, were more likely to collaborate as fluid ensemble with their sibling in the planning task. In contrast, children that were reported to do household work only when adults managed their chores were more likely to collaborate by being bossy to their sibling or by ignoring their sibling while working on the plan. Findings may help us better understand how cultural practices contribute to children's tendencies to collaborate with others in different contexts, including in the classroom setting where collaboration might be discouraged or managed by adults.

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