Preschoolers’ interactions with other-gender peers promote prosocial behavior and reduce aggression: An examination of the Buddy Up intervention

Sonya Xinyue Xiao, Laura D. Hanish, Laura Means Malouf, Carol Lynn Martin, Bridget Lecheile, Priscilla Goble, Richard A. Fabes, Dawn DeLay, Crystal I. Bryce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The gendered nature of children's peer relationships has received little attention as a mechanism of change for students’ social-emotional competencies. To address this gap, we tested the effects of an easy-to-implement universal intervention (Buddy Up) that paired preschoolers with other-gender peers for enjoyable, cooperative, and structured classroom activities. We considered whether the Buddy Up intervention, relative to a control condition, predicted changes in children's aggression and prosocial behavior. Participants were 140 preschoolers (53.6% boys; Mage = 56.49 months; 78% Mexican/Mexican-American) from the Southwestern United States. Following a 2-week pretest period in January (T1), teachers in intervention classrooms implemented the Buddy Up program, which continued until the end of the school year. Post-test data were collected in May (T2). As hypothesized, Buddy Up was associated with increased prosocial behavior and reduced aggression. Testing other-gender friendship participation as a moderator indicated that Buddy Up's effectiveness on prosociality and aggression was not significantly moderated by children's other-gender friendship. We also tested other-gender friendship participation as a mediator and found that Buddy Up increased children's likelihood of having other-gender friends which led to greater prosocial behavior. These findings demonstrated the utility of Buddy Up and the potential for positive outcomes associated with the facilitation of other-gender relationships in early childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-413
Number of pages11
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • Aggression
  • Gender
  • Gender integration
  • Intervention
  • Preschool
  • Prosocial behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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