Children’s tendencies to being tricked, fooled and misled by their peers are being investigated by researchers from The University of Western Australia.
And the researchers want parents of primary school-aged children across Australia to help in their study.
Rebecca Seward from the Neurocognitive Development Unit in UWA’s School of Psychology said the study aimed to increase understanding of the factors that contributed to children’s abilities to know when they were being fooled by others.
Ms Seward said the research would focus on children’s social vulnerability – that is, their tendency to being tricked in social situations – and how this related to their experiences with other kids, such as being bullied, feeling angry or feeling sad.
“We hope to gain a better understanding of how this social vulnerability develops during childhood and at what age children outgrow this vulnerability,” she said.
“While there hasn’t been much research done in this area, the existing research has linked social vulnerability to poor social outcomes, such as being bullied and feelings of anger and anxiety.
“Early social experiences during childhood are crucial; how children interact with others, and how others interact with them, are really important for the development of problems and strengths later on.
“With bullying in schools regarded as a significant social problem, and mental health concerns among young children becoming more prominent, this study will provide important information about how this tendency relates to our strengths and weaknesses as we grow up.”
Ms Seward said it was hoped the results of the study would help researchers develop a tool for parents and health professionals working with children to identify those who were socially vulnerable and to implement appropriate strategies to reduce the risk of negative social experiences.
Parents will be asked to complete several questionnaires about their child online.
For more information about the study or to volunteer, contact Rebecca Seward.
(Source: The University of Western Australia)