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Description: To determine whether preference behaviors may capture children’s understanding of social exclusion at an earlier developmental point than verbal report, the current study assessed 3- to 6-year-old children’s (N = 256) verbal report and social preferences after experiencing socially exclusive and inclusive ball games. Five- to six-year-old children were consistently able to verbally identify exclusion and preferred inclusive agents over exclusive agents across two experiments. Three- to four-year-old children were able to verbally identify exclusive agents but did not show consistent preference for inclusive over exclusive agents. Surprisingly, children were able to detect nonverbalized social exclusion equally well as verbalized social exclusion. These findings shed light on the relation between verbal report and social preferences in capturing children’s social cognitive reasoning that is essential to understanding how laboratory-based measures reflect children’s processing of real-life social interactions.


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