Human Ethology Bulletin
This study may be the first to directly test the hypothesis that mixed-age interaction can increase cooperation and reduce competition among peers. Twenty pairs of preschoolers (ages 4-6) were observed twice in same-gender triads in a play situation involving a limited-resource: once in a same-age triad of preschoolers and once in a mixed-age triad that included a child approximately 5 years older. Children in mixed-age groups spent more time playing, were more equitable in sharing the resource, better organized and more cooperative, with smoother turn-taking and higher performance scores in the game. Children in same-age groups spent more time interfering with the game or disengaged. These findings demonstrate the potential benefits of mixed-age interaction in school settings.
Cedarville, psychology, cooperation, competition, peer relations, mixed-age socialization
Liu, Chao and LaFreniere, Peter, "The Effects of Age-Mixing on Peer Cooperation and Competition" (2014). Psychology Faculty Publications. 205.