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Konstantine Zakzanis

Chapter 12- Expanding the Social World: Peers and Friends How Peer Interactions Begin: Developmental Patterns  Interactions w/ peers begin to shape children’s behaviour at an early age o Even in their earliest months, babies begin to react to each others, and when children begin to utter their first words and phrases, social interaction really gets under way Infancy: First Social Interactions  In their first 6 months of life, they touch and look at each other and are surprisingly responsive to each other’s behaviour- if one child cries, another child may cry too o But these early responses cannot be considered truly social in the sense of the infant’s seeking and expecting a response from another child  B/w 6 and 12 months of age, an infant will start trying to influence another child by vocalizing, by looking at or waving at the child, or by touching them  Although babies do hit and push sometimes, a considerable amount of social behaviour among the baby crowd is friendly  As children develop competence in interacting w/ peers, they shift toward increased social play and exhibit a clear preference for playing w/ peers rather than adults  Social exchanges w mothers differ from those w/ peers: o Babies find mothers more reliable and more responsive than infants o Exchanges w/ mothers are longer and more sustained, but the interchanges may be a bit one-sided o Mothers tend to bear the larger responsibility for maintaining the interaction, whereas in exchanges b/w infant peers, the 2 partners contribute more equally Social Exchange among Toddlers  B/w the ages of 1 and 2, children make gains in locomotion and language that increase the complexity of their social exchange o During this period, they develop the capacity to engage in complementary social interaction- that is, partners take turns and exchange roles in their play so that o E.g. Jason may play “hider” and John “seeker” and then John may hide while Jason seeks.- Peers begin to imitate one another’s activity, and to show awareness that they are being imitated  The table below summarizes Parten’s classic description of the types of play that characterize the social exchanges of 2.5- 4 yrs Solitary play Children play by themselves and generally ignore other children who are near. About half of 2 year olds engage in this type of play Parallel play Two children play in similar activities, often side by side, but don’t engage one another. This type of play is common in 2 year olds but diminishes by the time a child is 3 to 4 years old Associative play Children play w/ other children but don’t necessarily share the same goals or agendas. They share toys and materials, and they may even react to or comment on another child’s ongoing activities (e.g. sharing paints or remarking on another child’s art work). However, they are still not fully engaged w/ each other in a joint project. This type of play is commonly seen in 3-4 years old, less often in 2 yr old Co-operative play At age 3-4, children begin to engage in this sophisticated type of play in which they co-operate, reciprocate, and share common goals. Some examples of co-operative play are building a sand castle, drawing picture together, and playing a fantasy game in which characters interact w/ each other  As children become familiar w/ each other, their early peer interactions tend to develop into relationships o Relationship: a succession of interactions b/w two people who know each other that is altered by their shared, past interactions and that also affects their future interactions Preschool and Elementary School Society  As children move into preschool and elementary school, they continue to seek out and engage in more and more peer interactions  W/ whom do children of various ages spend time? o Over time, children spend more hours w/ child companions and fewer w/ adults o These trends continue into adolescence, when children grow into spending less time w/ family and more time either alone or w/ friends  Larson found that among both European-American and African American preadolescents and adolescents, talking w/ peers increased dramatically b/w the ages of 10 and 15  The kinds of peers children choose to spend time w/ change o Age becomes a more impt factor; for example, companionship w/ peers of the same age grows over time o Gender too begins to matter- up to age 3 or 4, children choose same and opposite sex companions, but after this, both boys and girls prefer same to opposite gender play partners How Do Peers Help to Socialize Children  Peers play a role in socializing children, just as families do o Peers offer a perspective quite different from that of the family-the perspective of equals who share common abilities, goals, and problems  How does the peer group influence the child’s development? o In many of the same ways parents do-through modelling, reinforcement, and social comparison and by providing opportunities for learning and socializing Modelling Behaviours  Children acquire knowledge behaviours simply by observing the behaviour and actions of their peers o E.g. Colin is spending his first day at a new school. Through observing the other students, he rapidly learns that children are expected to stand when the teacher enters the room, that it is risky to shoot spit-balls, and that he should avoid contact w/ the big, grumpy kid b/c he is the class bully. Colin may also learn new social skills by modelling or imitating  Children also imitate older, more powerful and more prestigious peer models  But imitation severs other purposes besides rule learning- it can often be an impt way of maintaining social interaction  In many cultures, siblings are primary caregivers for infants and toddlers- this allows the young child to learn from peers of different age groups Teaching and Reinforcing  As children develop, they begin to reinforce their peers’ behaviours o To reinforce is to pay attention to another’s behaviour, to praise or criticize it, or to share in it  As the concept of “peer pressure” implies, childhood and adolescent peers can convince their compatriots to take risks and engage in deviant behaviour- clearly, peers’ influence can be harmful as well as beneficial  Interaction w/ peers also provides an opportunity for specific instruction and learning o In Western cultures, one can see this in school games and sports and in tutorial arrangements, in which children teach each other and acquire new skills together o In some other cultures, such as those of India, Kenya and Mexico both older peers and siblings teach and are caregivers for younger children Social Comparison and the Developing Self  Peers may help a child develop their self-image and self-esteem by providing standards against which to measure themselves  There is one objective way to rate one’s own characteristics, abilities, and values, and children turn to other people, particularly to peers, for help o Social comparison: the process of evaluating one’s characteristics, abilities, values, and other qualities by comparing oneself/ others, usually one’s peers o In other words, children watch and talk w/ their peers and then use what they have learned to evaluate themselves  How do we choose the particular person w/ whom we want to compare ourselves? o It’s likely that if a child wants to know how good a fighter they are, they think about how they have done in neighbourhood scuffles and how tough their peers seem to think they are- they don’t compare themselves w/ a profession fighter o If a child wants to evaluate their reading ability, they are most prob. compares themselves w/ other children in their class Peer Acceptance  Children pale enormous significant on being accepted by peers, and peer acceptance is of great importance to children’s social development  Interacting w/ peers is the child’s first experience of social behaviour beyond the family, and when this experience is positive, it can lay the foundation for health adult social behaviour How Do We Study Peer Acceptance?  A common way of studying peer acceptance is to assess the status of children in a specific peer group o To do this, developmental psychologists generally use sociometric techniques: a procedure for determining children’s status within their peer group in which peers nominate others whom they like best or least or rate each child in the group for her likeability or desirability as a companion  Why do psychologists ask children, rather than teachers or other adults, to provide them w/ data on children’s peer status? 1. As insiders in the group, peers see a wider range of relevant behaviours than do adults 2. Peers have extended and varied experience w/ each other 3. By gathering data from many individuals who have interacted w/ the child who isn’t the subject of study, we prevent any single individual’s view from dominating our results  The nomination technique is when an investigator begins by asking each child in a group to name a specific number (usually 3) of peers whom they like especially and the same number of peers whom they don’t like very much o Next, the investigator sums the scores of all the “like most” and “like least” choices and assigns children to one of several groups: 1. Popular children: children who are liked by many peers and disliked by very few- they are friendly and assertive but not disruptive or aggressive - Some children who are perceived as popular are also characterized as athletic, cool, dominant, arrogant, and both physically and relationally aggressive 2. Average children: children who have some friends but aren’t as well liked as popular children 3. Neglected children: children who tend to be socially isolated and, though they have few friends, aren’t necessarily disliked by others 4. Controversial children: children who are liked by many peers but also disliked by many 5. Rejected children: children who are disliked by many peers and liked by very few 6. Aggressive rejected children: rejected children who are characterized by high levels of aggressive behaviour, low self-control, and behavioural problems 7. Non-aggressive rejected children: rejected children who tend to be withdrawn, anxious, and socially unskilled Factors that Affect Peer Status  What factors influence children’s appraisals of one another? o Research suggests that probably the single most significant factor is a child’s cognitive and social skills- their ability to initiate interactions w/ others, to communicate effectively and interact comfortably w/ them, to be responsive to others’ interests and behaviours, and to co-operate w/ others in play and school activities  However, there are some less crucial factors in peer acceptance that are as influential w/ children as they are w/ adults o When people meet others, especially for the first time, they are likely to base their initial appraisals of the person on such superficial characteristics as name or physical appearance, or even enduring characteristics such as race, gender, or age o Children often do this too Acquiring Social-Cognitive Skills  The child who asks new acquaintances for info (e.g. where do you live), offers info (e.g. my favourite sport is soccer) or invites another child to join in an activity (e.g. want to help me build this fort?) is well on the way of being accepted by the group  On the other hand, the child who tries to initiate social interaction by hovering about a group silently or by making inappropriate or aggressive remarks is likely losing friends before they even get started  To feel comfortable approaching a new social situation, a child needs to want to interact w/ others, to feel confident that they have something useful to contribute to the group, and to be interested in learning what others in the group are like- what their interests are and what they think about many things Processing and Acting on Social Info  A child approaching the new group of peers needs to understand others’ communications clearly, to interpret their behaviour accurately, to formulate their own goals and strategies based on these interpretations, to make useful decisions, to communicate clearly to others, and to try out and then evaluate their strategies o This is quite a large order, especially for a young child, and some are better at it than others  Crick and Dodge devised the model of social info processing 1. Encode cues (one’s own thoughts as well as others’ behaviours) 2. Interpret cues (attribute causes, attribute intent, evaluate goal, evaluate past performance and evaluate self and others 3. Clarify goals 4. Review possible actions 5. Decide on an action (review possible outcomes, evaluate likely response, evaluate self-efficacy and select action) 6. Act on decision - The child’s “database” consists of memories of other situations and acts, learned rules of social behaviour, and their general social knowledge  E.g. Claudia is 7 years old and quite socially competent, approaches 2 children playing a board game 1. She notices that one of the girls smiles at her in a friendly way (step 1, encode cues) 2. She concludes that the girl would like her to play too (step 2, interprets cues) 3. She decides that she wants to make friends (step 3, clarifies goals) 4. She reviews possible actions to further her goal-smile back, ask to join in- and consider how the girls might react to each possible choice (step 4, reviews actions/responses) 5. Claudia decides to make a friendly comment about the girl’s game (step 5, decides) 6. Just then, the smiling girl looks up again, and Claudia smiles back and says, “Looks like fun” (step 6, acts) - The girl invites her to play the next game w/ her  Why do some children develop positive goals and strategies and others negative goals and behaviours? o One impt explanation is that children differ in the way they perceive themselves and in the way they explain why they are sometimes successful at a task and sometimes unsuccessful o A child who thinks that they didn’t succeed at something b/c they just didn’t try hard enough may well try again, but the child who believes that there is something lacking within themselves may give up  Impt to recognize that the relations b/w the info-processing steps in the model and actual behaviour w/ peers are reciprocal o Although we assume that biased processing of social info leads to maladaptive social behaviour and poor peer acceptance, the model recognizes that maladaptive behaviour over time can lead to the development of social info- processing deficits as well Beauty May Be Only Skin Deep, But It’s Way Cool  When they encounter someone new, children are just as likely as adults to base their impressions on the person’s physical appearance  Children expect to find characteristics such as friendliness, willingness to share, fearlessness, and self-sufficiency in good looking peers and often think unattractive children are likely to be aggressive, anti-social, and mean  Teenagers, almost uniformly prefer good-looking partners, viewing unattractive ones as unacceptable “We Like to Have (Boys) (Girls)”  The tendency to gender-exclusivity increases throughout elementary school, and it’s not until early adolescence that children once again choose opposite-gender companions –this time for dates  Children whose primary friendships, or only friendships, were w/ opposite-sex peers were less well accepted, judged less skilled academically and socially and tended to report lower self-esteem  Similarly, others have found that boys who had girls in their friendship networks reported greater intimacy w/ their same- gender best friends What’s in a Name? Or an Age?  Children learn very quickly what given names are popular among their peers and thus “acceptable” and often they may think another child’s name is funny or worry that their own name is odd o As a result, they are more likely to be friendly to a peer w/ a name that is familiar to them  Children’s typical preference for play w/ same-age peers does serve a special role in social development o After all, children share interest most closely w/ those who are at similar points in their cognitive, emotional, social and physical development and its largely their peers w/ whom they are interacting on a continuing basis in their schooling, their work and communities Consequences of Being Unpopular  Sometimes, children exclude others from their groups or activities and sometimes, children bully or dominate others in the classroom  In a more direct action, children can deny others access to other people or objects o E.g. children may not let a preschooler play on a swing or slide Short and Long-Term Consequences of Rejection  Short-term consequences: o loneliness as a result of being rejected and ignored
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