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J Exp Child Psychol. 2010 Apr;105(4):345-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2009.12.002. Epub 2010 Jan 22.

Similarity predicts liking in 3-year-old children.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Two studies examined the influence of similarity on 3-year-old children's initial liking of their peers. Children were presented with pairs of childlike puppets who were either similar or dissimilar to them on a specified dimension and then were asked to choose one of the puppets to play with as a measure of liking. Children selected the puppet whose food preferences or physical appearance matched their own. Unpacking the physical appearance finding revealed that the stable similarity of hair color may influence liking more strongly than the transient similarity of shirt color. A second study showed that children also prefer to play with a peer who shares their toy preferences, yet importantly, show no bias toward a peer who is similar on an arbitrary dimension. The findings provide insight into the earliest development of peer relations in young children.

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