An Investigation of Young Children's Dyadic Social Problem-Solving Strategies Using Convergent and Divergent Computer Software Formats

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Wilson, Josephine Coleman
Fein, Greta G.
This study compared the social problem-solving strategies of 24 peer dyads using convergent and divergent computer software formats. Randomly paired same-sex, same-age preschool and kindergarten dyads were videotaped on two separate days using either a convergent or a divergent computer software format. Measures of computer time, social interactions, cooperation strategies, conflict resolution strategies, and the flexible use of these strategies were computed for each computer software format. A series of multivariate analyses of variance with repeated measures on software conditions were performed to examine the contributions of age, software, and their interaction to these measures. Dyads in the divergent condition laughed more and divided responsibility for the task less than did children in the convergent condition. Analyses revealed a significant multivariate software effect for cooperation strategies. Significant multivariate age x software interaction also appeared for cooperation strategies and flexibility. Older children in the convergent condition helped more and showed more flexibility than did younger children; but in the divergent condition, the direction of these differences were reversed. These findings suggest that even in children as young as 4-years-old cooperative strategies are adapted to the problem at hand. Social interactions are differentiated and used selectively for divergent and convergent situations. The implications of these results for early childhood educators and researchers interested in optimizing software use for young children are discussed.