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Misch, Antonia; Over, Harriet; Carpenter, Malinda (February 2016): I won’t tell: Young children show loyalty to their group by keeping group secrets. In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol. 142: pp. 96-106
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Abstract

Group loyalty is highly valued. However, little is known about young children’s loyal behavior. This study tested whether 4- and 5-year-olds (N = 96) remain loyal to their group even when betraying it would be materially advantageous. Children and four puppets were allocated to novel groups. Two of these puppets (either in-group or out-group members) then told children a group secret and urged them not to disclose the secret. Another puppet (not assigned to either group) then bribed children with stickers to tell the secret. Across ages, children were significantly less likely to reveal the secret in the in-group condition than in the out-group condition. Thus, even young children are willing to pay a cost to be loyal to their group.