Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




The purpose of the present study was to examine, in Chinese and Canadian

children, how the context (friend, non-friends vs. mixed playmates) interacts with culture to shape the exhibition of prosocial and self-expressive behaviour in children’s peer interactions. Specifically, the three main objectives of this study were to examine (1) whether there were cultural differences in the levels of prosocial and self-expressive behaviour during free play peer interactions, (2) whether the context of peers affected the specific behaviours displayed and (3) whether gender differences existed in prosocial and self-expressive behaviour demonstrated to friends, non-friends and mixed playmates in Chinese and Canadian children. Same-gender quartets of children at 11- years of age

from London, Canada and Beijing, China were observed in laboratory free-play settings. The results revealed a series of main effect and interactions involving gender, culture and context. In general, regarding cultural differences, Chinese children (mainly boys in interactions with mixed playmates and girls in interactions with friend) displayed more prosocial behaviour than Canadian children. Canadian children displayed more self- expressive behaviours than Chinese children, but mainly in interactions with mixed playmates. Regarding gender differences, girls displayed more prosocial and self- expressive behaviour than boys in interactions with friend, whereas boys displayed more prosocial scores than girls in interactions with mixed playmates. The results indicate that multiple contextual and personal factors may be involved in determining individual social behaviour in peer interactions



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