Dr. Michal Perlman

Professor, University of Toronto and Director, Dr. R.G.N. Laidlaw Research Centre, University of Toronto

Curriculum vitae


Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)

University of Toronto

252 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M5S 1V6

Differential parenting and children\textquotesingles social understanding

Journal article

Sharon Pauker, Michal Perlman, Heather Prime, Jennifer M. Jenkins
Social Development, vol. 26, Wiley, 2016 Oct, pp. 645--657

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APA   Click to copy
Pauker, S., Perlman, M., Prime, H., & Jenkins, J. M. (2016). Differential parenting and children{\textquotesingle}s social understanding. Social Development, 26, 645–657. https://doi.org/10.1111/sode.12214

Chicago/Turabian   Click to copy
Pauker, Sharon, Michal Perlman, Heather Prime, and Jennifer M. Jenkins. “Differential Parenting and Children{\Textquotesingle}s Social Understanding.” Social Development 26 (October 2016): 645–657.

MLA   Click to copy
Pauker, Sharon, et al. “Differential Parenting and Children{\Textquotesingle}s Social Understanding.” Social Development, vol. 26, Wiley, Oct. 2016, pp. 645–57, doi:10.1111/sode.12214.

BibTeX   Click to copy

  title = {Differential parenting and children{\textquotesingle}s social understanding},
  year = {2016},
  month = oct,
  journal = {Social Development},
  pages = {645--657},
  publisher = {Wiley},
  volume = {26},
  doi = {10.1111/sode.12214},
  author = {Pauker, Sharon and Perlman, Michal and Prime, Heather and Jenkins, Jennifer M.},
  month_numeric = {10}


In the current study, a curvilinear association was examined between differential parenting and children's social understanding as measured using standardized assessments and behavioral observations. Social understanding was comprised of theory-of-mind and behavior indicating understanding of others’ minds (i.e., cognitive sensitivity and internal state talk and reasoning during sibling interactions). Data came from a community sample of 372 children (51.6% males; M age = 5.57, SD = 0.77), their younger siblings (M age = 3.14, SD = 0.27), and their mothers who were observed in their homes. We hypothesized that in families with higher levels of differential parenting, both favored and disfavored older siblings would display poorer social understanding, but that disfavored children would be more negatively impacted. Results from a hierarchical regression analysis indicated an inverse linear effect, rather than a curvilinear relationship, between being favored by mother and siblings’ social understanding. Specifically, disfavored older children showed higher levels of social understanding when interacting with their favored younger sibling. This relationship remained significant after controlling for variables such as age, SES, and language. Findings suggest that differential parenting plays a role in children's ability to understand others.


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