Patterns of cooperation, conflict, and domination in children's collaborative problem-solving

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Margarita Azmitia

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

William Kurtines

Third Advisor's Name

Luis Escovar


Cooperativeness in children, Problem solving in children, Child psychology

Date of Defense



This study examined the influence of age, expertise, and task difficulty on children's patterns of collaboration. Six- and eight-year-old children were individually pretested for ability to copy a Lego model and then paired with each other and asked to copy two more models. The design was a 3 (dyad skill level: novice, expert, or mixed) X 2 (age: six or eight) X 2 (task difficulty: moderate or complex) factorial. Results indicated that cooperation increased with age and expertise and decreased with task difficulty. However, expertise had a greater influence on younger than older children's interaction styles. It is argued that with age, social skills may become as important as expertise in determining styles of collaboration. The issue is raised of whether cooperation, domination, and independence represent developmental sequences (i.e., independence precedes cooperation) or whether they represent personal styles of interaction. Finally, it is suggested that an important goal for future research is to assess the relationship between patterns of collaboration and learning.



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