Children's differentiation between ingratiation and self-promotion

Dawn Watling, Robin Banerjee

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Previous research has demonstrated that 10-year-olds can provide interpersonal explanations for certain self-presentational tactics, but detailed information about the development of their understanding of these tactics is lacking.This research investigated children’s understanding of the processes involved in ingratiation (used to indicate likeability) and self-promotion (used to indicate competence). In the first study, with a sample of 60 children aged six to 11 years, children saw ingratiation as leading to more positive social evaluation than self-promotion, which was seen as having a more concrete, instrumental function. Additionally, children’s differentiation between ingratiation and self-promotion was correlated with their level of peer preference, as determined through sociometric nominations, particularly for boys. In a second study, with a sample of 63 children aged six to 11 years, it was found that audience type (peer vs. adult) was related to children’s understanding of the self-presentational tactics: children offered more social evaluation justifications for a self-promotion tactic when the audience was a peer rather than an adult. Results are discussed with reference to emerging insights into the links between peer relations and social cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-776
JournalSocial Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • ingratiation
  • self-promotion
  • social cognition
  • self-presentation

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