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Thesis (M.S.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1965. Department of Home Economics.


Copyright 1965, the author. Used by permission.


This experiment was conducted to investigate the emergence and development of sharing behavior in preschool children.The subjects were ninety-six children at the ages of two, three, four, and five.Two children of the same age and sex were paired together.The children were given a scored chocolate bar and told that it was for both of them and then they were left alone.The behavior of the children was observed through a camouflaged screen from an observation booth by the experimenter. Recordings were made of the sharing behavior, the time it took the pairs of children to divide the candy, and the proportional sharing of the bar.Experimental sessions were conducted before lunch so that the candy would be desired.Only children whose fondness for chocolate candy had been verified by their parents were used.

A Sharing Behavior Rating Scale was devised by the experimenter as a measure of sharing behavior.The scale is ordinal, progressing from no sharing behavior, through partial sharing behavior, to intent to share equally.

The main hypothesis for research, that older children will display more sharing behavior than younger children, was supported by the observations.No correlation was found between time taken by the children to share and the proportional division of the bar.

The findings support the general concept of developmental timing in the progression of thinking in young children.They also support previous research which has indicated that as preschool children become older they tend to become more social and more involved in group activities.Previous research has also shown that children tend to share more after they have entered elementary school.However, the children in the present research not only began sharing in the preschool years but were sharing equally by the age of four, well before the kindergarten age of five.This indication that sharing behavior in children can appear at an early age as an outcome of learning and under the appropriate social influences suggests that training in sharing and other social techniques could be carried on in nursery schools at a time in children’s lives when they are becoming increasingly social in their awareness.

Advisor: Harold Abel