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Stuart Kamenetsky

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Chapter 8
Peers: The Wider World of Social Development
Peer Interactions
Children’s interactions with peers are briefer, freer, and more equal than interactions with
adults. These interactions facilitate interpersonal exploration and growth in social competence.
Developmental Patterns of Peer Interaction
Infants interact with peers by vocalizing and touching.
Toddlers exchange turns and roles during interactions with peers; major achievements include
sharing meaning with a peer and engaging in mutual pretend play.
Children increase their preference for interacting with peers rather than adults as they grow.
Companionship with peers of the same age increases over the school years.
Children are likely to choose same-gender play partners.
In adolescence, gender segregation lessens as dating begins. Peer relationships are used to
explore and enhance identities.
Peers as Socializers
Peers act as models of social behavior, reinforce and punish each another, serve as standards
against which children evaluate themselves, and provide opportunities for developing a sense
of belonging.
Peers have a stronger influence than parents on adolescents’ lifestyle choices.
Patterns of peer interaction and influence are different in different cultures.
Peer Status
Peer status is assessed with sociometric techniques by having children identify peers they like
and don’t like; peer acceptance is assessed with ratings of how much children like or dislike
each classmate. Children are classified as popular, rejected, neglected, controversial, or
Sociometric techniques
onominations sociometric technique
oroster-and-rating sociometric procedure
perceived popularity
oin childhood this is quite strongly related to popularity assessed w/ sociometric
techniques but in adolescence, weak associations because popularity involves social
prominence rather than simply liking/disliking someone
Peer status depends on children’s abilities to initiate interaction, communicate effectively,
respond to others’ interests and behaviors, and cooperate in activities.
Popular children engage in prosocial behavior and help set the norms for the group.
Nonaggressive-rejected children tend to be withdrawn and lack social skills.
osocial withdrawal is one of the strongest correlates of peer rejection in middle
childhood and adolescence
Neglected children
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osocially reticent – children watch others from afar, remain unoccupied in social
company and hover near but do not engage in interaction
ounsociable/socially uninterested children – not anxious/fearful, but simply refrain
from social interaction b/c they prefer to play alone
Aggressive-rejected children have low self-control and exhibit problem behaviors. Neglected
children are less talkative and more shy and anxious. Controversial children are liked by many
peers and disliked by many others.
Popular children
adolescents who are high in perceived popularity-typically popular-
aggressive-show increased alcohol use and sexual activity over the years of
high school
likely rejected due to aggression, disruptive behaviour, etc
otemperament characterized by high-extraversion surgency
likely rejected due to being withdrawn…
otemperament characterized by low-extraversion surgency
olower levels of trait cortisol associated with poorer-quality peer relationships
obetter regulation of HR is related to higher peer status
According to social-cognitive information-processing theory, children attend to the cues in a
social situation, interpret other children’s behavior, decide what their own goals are and how to
achieve them, decide to take certain actions, and act on their decisions.
o1) encodes cues
o2) interprets cues
o3) clarifies goals
o4) reviews actions/responses
o5) decides
Children may not always respond to social situations in a reflective and thoughtful way;
sometimes their behavior is impulsive or automatic.
In comparison to unpopular and socially unsuccessful children, those who are popular and
socially successful have more positive goals and strategies, more self-confidence and
persistence, can try a new approach when another has been unsuccessful, are more attractive,
and blend in with other children.
orejected children – hostile goals and strategies and say they would try to avoid
osocially withdrawn – use low-cost social goals and indirect strategies to initiate
social interactions
attractive children rated more positively in terms of social appeal, interpersonal competence
and psychological adjustment
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