Vicarious social exclusion and memory in young children.

We investigated whether witnessing social exclusion influenced memory recall in preschool children. A sample of 81 children (Mage = 5 years, 4 months) first watched priming videos either depicting social exclusion or not. Subsequently, they participated in two memory tasks, one testing recall of numbers and the other testing recall of previously heard story events. These consisted of social (e.g., “brother”) and nonsocial (e.g., “circus”) items. In addition, a language-screening test was conducted to ensure that in both conditions (i.e., social exclusion and control), children’s language levels were similar. In both conditions, children scored comparably on number recall and overall recall of story events. However, only children who observed social exclusion remembered more social than nonsocial items. The findings suggest that vicarious social exclusion triggers selective retention of social information in preschool age, in accord with findings of older children and adults who directly experienced social exclusion. Social exclusion affects the need to belong in young children, not only indicated by means of increased attempts to affiliate, but also by an increased memory for social events. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)