Research in Developmental Psychology: Social Exclusion Among Children and Adolescents

  • Laura ElenbaasEmail author
  • Melanie Killen


Social exclusion is a common occurrence in social life, and this experience begins in childhood. Frequent exclusion in childhood and adolescence is related to long-term negative consequences, such as depression, social withdrawal, and anxiety. Most developmental research in this area has documented how patterns of victimization and bullying behavior reflect individual differences in temperament, attachment, confidence, and social-cognitive skills. Recently, however, developmental researchers have differentiated interpersonal peer exclusion from intergroup social exclusion. This chapter presents a developmental perspective on intergroup social exclusion, which is a highly salient form of exclusion based on group membership, such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or culture. Complementing research on interpersonal peer exclusion, research on intergroup social exclusion is designed to understand the origins of prejudice, and the roles that group identity, group norms, and group dynamics play for fostering or inhibiting intergroup social exclusion. Recent research has revealed how children’s biases and stereotypes contribute to the cycle of exclusion that begins early in development. Yet, throughout development, children also demonstrate concern for others’ welfare and fairness. As members of social groups, children and adolescents often seek a balance between preserving group norms, equal and just treatment of others, and adherence to expectations from peers, parents, and society. In this chapter, we review not only how children and adolescents perpetuate intergroup inequalities through social exclusion, but also how they challenge and resist such tendencies, concluding with the implications of this work for promoting equality throughout development.


Children Adolescents Intergroup attitudes Moral development Stereotypes In-group bias Discrimination Fairness Rights Equality 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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