Chapter 12: Expanding the social world:
peers and friends
-Relationships w/ peers are less enduring than family relationships and are more egalitarian.
-Facilitates growth of social competence, encourages sense of social justice, opens way for kids to form
relationships outside the family.
HOW PEER INTERACONIS BEGIN: DEVELOPMENTAL PATTERNS
-Even in earliest months, babies react to each other.
-Once they can speak, social interaction truly gets under way.
-By 3: prefer to interact w/ peers over adults.
Infancy: First social encounters
In first six months, babies interact.
-These early responses not considered true social interaction.
-It's not until the second half of first year that infants begin to recognize peer as social partner.
-B/w 6-12 m/o, infant will start influencing another infant by vocalizing, looking,
-At this age, kids show ability to interact in groups.
-As kids develop competence in interacting w/ peers, they shift towards social play and start preferring
peer interactions over adult ones.
-Study: 10 m/o - 2 y/o kids. Older kids engaged in more social play and less interested in playing with
moms, more interested in playing w/ peers.
-Social exchanges w/ mothers differ from ones w/ peers.
-Moms more reliable and more responsive to infants; exchanges are longer sustained but moms tend to
bear responsibility for maintaining interaction, but b/w peers, both have to work to maintain it.
Social exchanges among toddlers
-B/w age 1-2: kids make gains in locomotion and language. This increases complexity of their social
-Develop capacity to engage in complementary social interaction (take turns and exchange roles in play.
ex: hider and seekr.)
-Peers begin to imitate one another's acitvity.
-Are now more likely to show appropriate positive affect when engaging in positive social interaction
(ex: laughing and smiling).
-In late toddler period, the main social achievement is the ability to share meaning w/ a social partner.
-Ex: a "my turn" tug. -Complexity of children's play increases overtime.
-2.5 y/o: Solitary play
-Common at 2 y/o but diminishes at 3 or 4: parallel play.
-Commonly seen in 3 and 4 y/o's: associative play
-3-4 y/o: co-operative play
-As kids develop, negative exchanges and conflict also increase.
-Socialization and conflict go together
-Study: found toddlers who frequently initiated conflicts were also the most sociable and likely to
-As kids get familiar w/ each other, their peer interaction become relationships.
-relationship" a succession of interaction b/w 2 people who know each other that is altered by their
shared, past interactions and that also affects their future interactions.
-Study: found that toddlers develop relationships based on both positive and negative exchanges.
-Kids begin to show an early form of friendship very early.
-kids b/w 1-2 yrs old develop preferences for particular playmates
-These can last a year or even several years
-These relationships are not necessarily dyads; 2 y/o can interact in a 3 toddler group
and exhibit triadic (three way) interchanges.
Preschool and elemnetary school
-As kids get older, they start to spend more hours w// child companions and fewer w/ adults.
-Study: found that among white and black American preadolescents and adolescents, talking w/ peers
increased a lot b/w ages 10-15.
-Compared w/ Koreans and Japanese 12th graders, Americans spent twice as long talking to
each other each day (2.5 hours)
-The kids of peers kids choose to spend time w/ changes overtime as well.
-Age: friendships w/ peers of the same age grows
-gender: after 3 and 4: prefer same sex playmates (until adolescence).
HOW DO PEERS HELP SOCIALIZE CHILDREN
-Kids acquire knowledge behaviours simply by observing the behaviours and actions of their peers.
-ex: Colin learns thru observation that kids are supposed to stand up when teacher enters room.
-Colin learns new social skills by modelling or imitating Melissa who seems to be the class leader
and very socially skilled. -Kids imitate older, powerful, and more prestigious peer models.
-Imitation not just for learning rules. Can also be a way of maintaining social interaction.
-In 2 y/o: imitation sustains joint play, leads to more sophisticated forms of play, and ultimately to the
generation of verbal communication.
Teaching and reinforcing
-Kids begin to reinforce peers' behaviours.
-To reinforce: to pay attention to, and praise , criticize or share in another's behaviour.
-Peer pressure: childhood and adolescent peers can convince friends to take risks and engage in deviant
-Throughout preschool, kids begin to reinforce one another more and more. (Ex: 4 y/o do it more than 3
-Peer reinforcement affects child's behavioural patterns.
-Can be positive or negative reinforcement.
-Ex of negative reinforcement: the shady looks kids give each other / isolating each other if they
do something uncool.
-Interaction w/ peers also allows an opportunity for specific instruction and learning.
-Ex : tutorial arrangements and school games.
-In other cultures: older peers and sibling teach and are caregivers for younger kids.
Social comparison and the developing self
-Peers help a child develop a self-image and self-esteem by providing a standard against which to
-Kids tend to turn to peers to objectively rate their abilities, characteristics, etc.
-Social comparison: kids watch and talk w/ others and then use what they have learned to evaluate
-Kids show marked increase in comparison in early elementary school.
-Use the peer group as a means of evaluation.
-Child's self image and SE is associated with how she is received by her peers.
-How well kids think they stack up against their peers plays big role in SE.
-Kids tend to use peer group to evaluate themselves against because they are most like them.
How do we study peer acceptance?
-Common way: Assess the status of kids in specific peer groups.
-Do this using sociometric techniques.
-Ask kids to rate peers on scales of aggressiveness / helpfulness or compare peers as to
likeability and identify who they like best. -There's method called the nominations technique: each kid in a group is asked to name x number of
peers they like the most and same number of peers they like the least.
-Investigators sum up the scores of all the like and dislike choices and assign kids to several groups:
-Popular children: got greatest number of likes, and fewest dislikes.
-These kids are friendly and assertive but not disruptive or aggressive.
-Join a play group in a smooth way that doesn't interrupt the ongoing action.
-Are good at communication; help set rules and norms for group.
-engage in lots of pro-social behaviour.
-Not all popular kids fit this profile. Some are cool dominant and arrogant, and even aggressive. They
wield high levels of influence even though they are manipulative.
-Average children: receive some of both types of nominations.
-Neglected children: Get few votes.
-These kids are less aggressive, less talkative, and more withdrawn.
-Not necessarily disliked. Just don't get votes.
-Controversial children: receive many positive and many negative votes.
-Rejected children: many negative votes
-Aggressive rejected children: aggressive, have poor self control, have behavioural problems.
But they self perception is not poor.
-Non-aggressive rejected children: are anxious, withdrawn, socially unskilled.
Perceive themselves as less competent.
Factors that affect peer status
-Most important factor: child's cognitive and social skills
-ability to initiate interactions, to communicate, to be responsive to others, to cooperate.
-Kids, like everyone, tend to base their initial appraisal of a person based on superficial characteristics
like name or appearance.
AQUIRING SOCIAL-COGNITIVE SKILLS
-When joining a new group, how do kids go about it?
-Those who ask new friends for info, offer info about themselves, or invite other kids to join in activities
are more well liked by the group.
-Kids who try to initiate interaction by hovering or making inappropriate / aggressive remarks will not be
-To feel comfortable in new social situations, child has to feel confident that she has something useful to
contribute to a group, and be interested in the other kids in the group. PROCCESSING AND ACTING ON SOCIAL INFORMATION
-A child approaching a new group must understand others' communications well, interpret their
behaviours accurately, make useful decisions, communicate clearly to others, and try out and evaluate
-Biological predispositions influence this process.
1. Encode cues (one's own thoughts as well as other's behaviour.
2. Interpret cues
During each of these steps, a child is
-attribute intent drawing info from a database that
-evaluate past performance -Memory store
-evaluate self and others
3. clarify goals -Acquired rules
4. review possible actions -social knowledge
5. decide on an action
-review possible outcomes
-evaluate likely response
6. Act on decision.
Ex: Vimala approaches girl playing board game.
Sees one girl smiles at her (step 1). Conldues girl wants her to play too (step 2). Decides she wants to
make friends (step 3). Reviews options..smile?..ask?...considers how girls may respond to each one (step
4). Decides to make nice comment on girls' game (step 5). Vilama says "looks like fun" (step 6). Is invited
Ex: Chris , not so socially competent. Approaches group of boys. Busy looking at their sneakers, doesn't
see friendly look boy gives him (step 1: incorrectly encodes cues). Chris diecides they are unfriendly
(step 2: misinterpret cues). Thinks of some hostile things to do and fails to consider how they may react
(step 3/4: fails to clarify goal and review possible acts / responses). Decides to yell at them (step 5). Yells
at them (step 6). Boys move far away from him.
-Study found that in social situations, less socially competent kids were lless likely to notice and
interpret cues properly. Were less skilled at enacting and carrying out behaviour.
-These studies prove imporatnce of cognitive facotrs on social relationships. Deficits in social
understanding = poor social relationships. -Rejected kids (esp aggressive ones) view others in hostile terms and make hostile attributions to others'
-The strategy of interaction depends on the goal of the child.
-Kids who wanna make friends were more likely to use pro-social behaviour.
-Kids who wanna control others choose hostile and coercive strategies.
-Why do some kids have + goals and others have - ones?
-Kids differ in the way they perceive themselves and the way they explain why they are successful or
unsuccessful at a task.
-Kid who thinks they failed because they didn't try hard enough will be more likely to try again; those
who think there is something wrong with them will give up.
-To prevent the latter thinking: prevent kid from seeing task as a measure of ability, and focus
her attention on just trying out something new .
-Study: pen pal club. "To practice your skills" vs "To see how well you make friends".
-The kids given the learning goal were more persistent and successful than those given
the performance goal.
BEAUTY IS SKIN DEEP BUT IT'S WAY COOL
-Kids base first impression on physical appearance...just like we all do.
-People attribute positive qualities to those they find attractive.
-Expect them to be friendly, willing to share, to be fearless, self-sufficient
-Expect unattractive kids to be aggressive, anti-social, and mean.
-We are likely to find these expectations come true simply because of the way we treat people based on
their appearance. You are treated better if you are more attractive.
-Attractive kids were treated better, were more popular, better adjusted, even had better
-Timing of puberty matters.
-Boys who are early maturates are more readily accepted by older peers. BUT: this leads to more risk
taking and problem behaviours.
-Girls who mature early have a smaller network of close friends and more adjustment problems.
WE LIKE TO HAVE (BOYS) (GIRLS)
-Up to age 7, kids are usually willing to play w/ peers of either gender, but even in preschool years,
gender discrimination can occur.
-Tendency for gender-exclusivity grows throughout elementary school.
-Not until early adolescence do kids choose opposite gender companion.
-Exceptions to the gender-exclusivity tend to operate underground.
-ex: may spend time together in church, but keep their friendship a secret from classmates.
-Too bad; cross-gender play can introduce boys and girls to a broader range of behavioural styles and a
activities. Also promotes better understanding of that are qualities shared by both sexes. -Grade 3 and 4 kids who had cross gender friends and same gender ones too were among the most well
accepted, socially skilled kids in the group.
-Kids whose primary friendships or only friendships were cross gender were less accepted, judged less
skilled academically and socially, and tended to report lower SE.
-Boys who had girls in their friendship networks reported greater intimacy w/ their same gender best
-Study: looked at kids' own beliefs about same / cross gender friendships; interviewed grades 3, 6, 9, 12.
-Students more commonly expect mutual liking, similarity, loyalty, and intimacy from same sex friends.
-This holds across all the ages i n the study.
-Don't exaggerate the differences in peer relationship styles for boys and girls: they both participate in
both co-operative and competitive activities. Girls can be just as aggressive as boys but express it
differently. Girls and boys are both equally likely to be central members of their respective cliques.
WHAT'S IN A NAME? OR AN AGE?
-Kids learn what names are popular and thus, "Acceptable". May think some other child's name is odd.
-More likely to be friends with a peer with a familiar name than a peer with an uncommon name.
-In Western societies, play groups tend to be age graded.
-NA kids spend most of their time in same age peers. (spend less than a third of time w/ kids who are
more than 2 yrs older than themselves.)
-In many other cultures, older kids often play with and care for younger ones.
-Children's' typical preference for play with same age peers has special role in social development.
-They share interests more closely with those who are at similar points in their cognitive, emotional
social and physical development.
Consequences of being unpopular
-Kids reject those who they dislike in different ways: excluding them from activities, bullying, gossiping,
deny access to people or object (ex: not letting child play on swing), direct attack (physical or verbal).
-Rejected kids, esp non-aggressive ones, tend to be victimized by classmates.
SHORT AND LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES OF REJECTION
-Loneliness is one of the primary results of rejection and it has many faces.
-Unpopular kids report feeling lonely and socially dissatisfied.
-Neglected kids may be no lonelier than the average child, but are more likely to feel lonely.
-Being disliked by peers can lead to feelings of isolation and alienation.
-Rejected non aggressive kids more likely to feel lonely than aggressive ones.
-Often, rejected kids are seen as easy targets and are victims of other kids; this victimization, rather than
just mere rejection, is associated w/ even greater degrees of loneliness. -As social relationships change, feelings change too.
-Study: tracked group of kids from grade 3 to 6.
-Those who showed increase in loneliness overtime were those who lost friends, became less
accepted by peers and talked about how hard it was to make friends.
-Even after victimization ceases, kids often continue to feel lonely even when they are no longer
-One friend helps: rejected kids who have a stable friendship w/ just one other child feel les
lonely than totally friendless rejected kids.
-What are the long term consequences of rejection?
-Poor achievement, school avoidance, loneliness.
-Poorly accepted kids were less co-operative in class.
-More likely to drop out of school and develop patterns of criminal activity.
-Kids who were chronically victimized in late elementary school were more depressed at 23 y/o and
more susceptible to being harassed by peers at work or school.
-Kids who are shy and withdrawn follow a diff life course pattern too.
-Shy kids are slower than non-shy kids to establish a career, marry, become a parent.
CAN PEER STATUS CHANGE?
-Social standing is quite stable overtime.
-Study showed that social status of kids moving from elementary to middle school remained stable,
especially for rejected kids.
-Another more long term study: popular and neglected kids both were stable in social standing over a
five year span.
-In general, once a child was rejected, he is more likely than others to maintain this status
-Stability of rejection is even greater among kindergartners.
-This is partially the result of reputational bias: the tendency of kids to interpret peers' behaviour on the
basis of their past encounters with and feelings about these children.
-When asked to judge the negative behaviour of a peer, they are likely to excuse the behaviour of a peer
they earlier liked, but not excuse those who they did not like.
-Reputation colours kids' interpretation of peers' actions and helps account for the stability of
behaviour over time.
-Reputation is not the only component in peer-status stability.
-Behaviour and characteristics of the kids who have experienced rejection and important too.
-Study: found that when boys were brought into new and diff social groups, they were assigned the
same peer status as they had before.
-True both of boys who were earlier pop