PSY310H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Cognitive Training, Iatrogenesis, Relational Aggression
ProfessorVirginia K Walker
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Chapter 5 – Peer Influence
-high school students in the US and Europe spend twice as much time each week with
peers than with parents or adults, even outside class. This is correlated with more positive
mood for the adolescents.
-American society is very age graded, from as early as daycare. This plays an important
role in forming friendships (peer groups - groups of people of same age).
-not all societies have peer groups that are as narrowly defined and age segregated as
those in contemporary industrialized societies.
-age grading started in the middle of the 19th century, but most adolescents weren't
affected by the educational grading until the second quarter of the 20th century
(especially high school).
-there was a rapid growth of the teenage population between 1955 and 1975 (baby
boomers after WWII). This trend decreased from 1975-1995, but increased again in
1990s once the baby boomers’ kids grew to become adolescents. It should remain stable
now with 1 in 7 individuals being adolescents in the States. This adolescent population
varies in different regions based on differing birth rates.
-changes in adolescent populations can affect allocation of services, and ways of
understanding behaviour of cohorts. Eg. Big population of baby boomers had a lot of
more competition for jobs, college, and they were also much more influential as a
population (Cold War).
The adolescent peer group: a problem or a Necessity?
-some believe age segregation has led to a separate youth culture, where young people
maintain attitudes and values different from adults.
-others think that peer groups play an important role in socialization of adolescents for
adulthood, to prepare for future (because of industrialization and modernization).
- Colman's concern of a troublesome new youth culture - put low value on academic
success (popularity had more to do with attractiveness, athletic ability, and money)
-there were also crowds based on ethnicity and social class - lot of tension between
crowds esp against the middle-class.
-age segregation due to peer groups: alienation from values of adults.
- Leads to problematic behavior. But this can also be due to other reasons of changing
society: world is more stressful to live in now (more moves, divorce, pressures).
-peer groups can also be positively influential.
- how adults are expected to behave depends on what family they come from
-paternalistic norms: norms for behavior that vary from person to person - kinship based
societies socialize adolescents in family groups (pass on knowledge from elders)
-universalistic norms: rules governing behavior apply equally to all members of the
community (in contemporary societies). It is a more efficient way to group by age to
socialize adolescents. This has replaced paternalistic norms as the family has become less
important for political and economic institutions.
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Nature of Adolescent Peer Groups:
- peer groups change in adolescence - increased time spent with peers (boys spend more
time alone, than with parents, and girls spend it on alone-time and with friends). This is
more striking among white girls than among boys or among black youth.
-peer groups are more independent.
-sex-cleavage in childhood - peer groups are more sex-segregated, less for teens
-adolescents have larger groups: crowds (populars, brains, druggies) - have their own
mini-cultures by early adolescence
-causes for changes: puberty (leads to distancing form parents); cognition (more
sophisticated thinking can lead to categorization of individuals into groups); changes in
social definition (adaptive response, to seek out other individuals with common interests
and values, eg. cheerleaders - more intimate groups than childhood).
Cliques and Crowds
-Cliques- small groups 2-12 people, of same sex, and same age; defined by common
activities or friendships; provides main social context for interaction (members appreciate
each other more than people outside the cliques do). Helps teens form social skills, learn
to communicate, and be a leader.
-clique members: have most interactions with same small group
-liaisons: interact with some members of a clique but aren't part of the clique themselves
-Isolates: have few or no links to others in the network
-less than half students in a school may be part of a clique; girls are more likely to be in
cliques; same adolescents continue to be members of cliques (though different ones).
-Crowds: exist for identification, share a image or reputation, and have common feature
(ethnicity, neighbourhood) - eg. Jocks, nerds; common in America - contribute to
adolescents identity and self-conception.
-crowds don't form intimate interactions or friendships, but help locate adolescents in
social structures in school, in associating with others, and being rewarded for certain
-teens can be part of more than one crowd
-participant observations in groups help researchers observe natural behaviour
-Romantic changes: boys and girls cliques come closer together in the safety of large
groups (parties, movies) - then enters a stage of structural transformation in middle
school (parts of the group begins to split off, become interested in romance - mainly for
physically attractive adolescents). More prevalent in middle adolescence.
-during late adolescence (grades 9-12), peer crowds disintegrate, replaced loosely by
couples (persists in adulthood). There is less need of a group for an identity.
-as crowds are more differentiated, and less hierarchical, means more freedom to change
crowds and enhance status
-ethnography of nerds (Kinney): qualitative research suggests that nerds are able to
transform to normal student status from middle school to high school, due to the context
and due to personal factors
Adolescents and their crowds:
-crowds based on two dimensions: how involved they are in institutions controlled by
adults, and how involved they are in informal, peer culture (contrast jocks vs. nerds).
-crowds: reference groups to judge other groups - can lead to peer pressures
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