Research by Botto, S. V., & Rochat, P. (2018).
Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S.
When do we humans, as children, first become aware that others watch us, evaluate us, then value the other’s positive evaluation, and finally decide to do something to please others?
Emory University researchers studied when the sensitivity to the evaluation of others begins. Through the use of four different studies, each containing more than 30 children ages 14 to 24 months, the researchers were able to assess for signs when our sensitivity develops. In each study, the researchers had one or multiple experimenters in a room with children. Each study manipulated the way the experimenter would provide attention to the children. The children’s change in reaction and behaviors were then recorded. For example, the tendency of a toddler to change their behavior in the presence of two different experimenters, depended upon both the experimenter’s evaluation of an outcome and their attention.
Results? The researchers concluded that as young as 24 months, we begin to notice that others are evaluating us!
Remember, others are sensitive to your attention and evaluation, even toddlers! Be encouraging! Research shows the evaluative audience perception sets a foundation for developing how we present ourselves to others, and when we conform to cultural expectations.
Botto, S. V., & Rochat, P. (2018). Sensitivity to the evaluation of others emerges by 24 months. Developmental Psychology, 54(9), 1723 – 1734.