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Week 11.pdf

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
Psychology 2410A/B
Professor
Adam Cohen

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WEEK 11: PEER RELATIONSHIPS • Peers can contribute to children’s development in meaningful ways • Peer interactions are a context in which children develop social skills and test new behaviours - both good and bad What is Special About Peer Relationships? • Peers: people of approximately the same age and status • Children are relatively equal in terms of power when they interact with their peers • Piaget suggested that because of this relative equality, children tend to be more open and spontaneous with peers when expressing their ideas and beliefs than they are with adults • Vygotsky suggested that children learn new skills and develop their cognitive capacities in peer interactions • He emphasized the ways in which children’s working together helps to build new skills and abilities, as well as to convey the knowledge and skills valued by the culture • Children become older, peers may become more important as a source of emotional support • Sullivan believes that friendships are essential for older children’s sense of well-being • According to Sullivan, chumships provide children with their first experience of an intimate interpersonal relationship based on reciprocity and exchange between equals Friendships • Friendship: intimate, reciprocated positive relationships between two people • The degree to which the conditions of friendship become evident in peer interactions increases with age during childhood • Early Peer Interactions and Friendships • Do Very Young Children have Friends? •Even 12-18 month olds seem to select and prefer some children over others •When a preferred peer shows distress, toddlers are three times more likely to respond by offering comfort or by alerting an adult than they are when a nonpreferred peer is upset • Differences in Children’s Interactions with Friends and Nonfriends •By the age of 2, children begin to develop several skills that allow greater complexity in their social interactions •These more complex skills tend to be in greater evidence in the play of friends than of nonfriends •Especially with friends, cooperation and coordination in children’s interactions continue to increase substantially form the toddler to the preschool years •Preschool friends quarrel as much or more with one another as do nonfriends and also more often express hostility by means of assaults, threats, and refusing requests •The higher rate of conflict for friends is likely due, in part, to the greater amount of time friends spend together •They also are more likely to resolve conflicts in controlled ways •Friends resolve conflicts in ways that result in equal outcomes rather than in one child’s winning anothers losing WEEK 11: PEER RELATIONSHIPS • Friends are more likely than nonfriends to continue their interactions and to maintain positive regard for one another • Developmental Changes in Friendship • Friends communicate more and better with each other and cooperate and work together more effectively • They also fight more often, but again, they also are more likely to negotiate their way out of the conflict • They now have the maturity to take responsibility for the conflict and to give reasons for their disagreement, increasing the likelihood of their maintaining the friendship • In many aspects as the children grow older, they do change in one important dimension: the level and importance of intimacy • Between ages 6 and 8, with their peers and tend to define “best” friends as peers with whom they play all the time and share everything • Between the early school years and adolescence, children increasingly experience and define their friendships in terms of mutual liking, closeness, and loyalty • At about 9 years of age, children seem to become more sensitive to the needs of others and to the inequalities among people • When children are about 10 years old, loyalty, mutual understanding, and self- disclosure become important components of children’s conceptions of friendship • More than younger friends, adolescent friends use friendship as a context for self- exploration and working out personal problems • Some researcher shave argued that the changes in children’s thinking about friendship are qualitative, or discontinuous • Piagets view that children have limited awareness that others may feel or think about things differently than they themselves do • Other researchers argue that the age-related changes in children’s conceptions of friendships reflect differences in how children think and express their ideas rather than age-related differences in the basic way they view friendships • The Functions of Friendships • Having friends provides numerous potential benefits for children • The most important of these, noted by Piaget, Vygotsky, Sullivan, and others, are emotional support and the validation of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and worth as well as opportunities for the development of important social and cognitive sills • Support and Validation • Friends can provide a source of emotional support and security • Friends also can provide support when a child feels lonely • Chronic friendlessness predicts internalizing problems such as depression and social withdrawal, which often cause or accompany loneliness • The support of friends can be particularly important during difficult periods of transition that involve peers • Friendships may also serve as a buffer against unpleasant experiences • Reciprocated Best Friendship: a friendship in which two children view one another as best or close friends • Victimized children also fare better if they have a number of friendships and if their friends are likely by peers and capable of defending then WEEK 11: PEER RELATIONSHIPS • Children who exhibit early problem behaviours are less likely to be victimized by peers if they have a mutual friendship than are children without a reciprocated best friendship • In highly stressful situations, support form adults may be more important for children’s well-being than support for friends • The Development of Social and Cognitive Skills • Friendships provide a context for the development of social skills and knowledge that children need to form positive relationships with other people • Friendship provides other avenues to social and cognitive development as well • Gossip with friends help children learn about peer norms • Sex Differences in the Functions of Friendships • Girls feel that their friendships are more intimate and provide more validation, caring, help and guidance than do boys • Girls are also more likely than boys to co-ruminate with their close friends • Unfortunately, while providing support, this tendency may also reinforce internalizing problems • The very intimacy of girls best friendships may make them more fragile, and therefore of shorter duration, than those of boys • Girls and boys are less likely to differ in the amount of conflict and betrayal they experience in their best friendships • Effects of Friendships on Psychological Functioning and Behaviour Over Time • Having close, reciprocated friendships in elementary school has been linked to a variety of positive psychological and behavioural outcomes for children • The Possible Long-Term Benefits of Having Friends • Having a reciprocated best friend in preadolescence related not only to positive social outcomes in middle childhood but also to self-perceived competence and adjustment in adulthood • The Possible Costs of Friendships • Aggression and disruptiveness • In late elementary school or early adolescence, children who have antisocial and aggressive friends tend to exhibit friends tend to exhibit antisocial and aggressive tendencies themselves • Children's characteristics, such as their activity level or quickness to anger, may affect the environments they choose, including their friends • Thus, aggressive children ma gravitate toward aggressive peers for friendship, thereby taking an active role i creating their own peer group • The effect may also be bidirectional: through their talk and behaviour, boys who are aggressive may socialize and reinforce aggression and deviance in one another by making them seem acceptable • Alcohol and substance abuse • As in the case of aggression, adolescents who abuse alcohol or drugs tend to have friends who do so also • It is not clear if friends substance abuse is a cause or merel a correlate of adolescents substance abuse, or if the relation between the two is birectional WEEK 11: PEER RELATIONSHIPS • The extent to which friends use of drugs and alcohol may put adolescents at risk for use themselves seems to depend n part on the nature of the child- parent relationship • Children’s Choice of Friends • Factors that influence children’s choices of friends include proximity • Similarity in age also is a major factor in friendship, with most children tending to make friends with age-mates • Another powerful factor in friend selection is sex • The preference for same-sex friends emerges in preschool and continues through childhood, although liking of other-sex peers increases from chidhood into early adolescence • Children tend to be friends with peers of the same race, although this tendency varies across groups • A key determinant of liking and friendship is similarity of interests and behaviour • Friends are also more similar in their level of academic motivation and self- perceptions of competence • Similarity probably initially attracts children to each other and then serves to maintain their friendships Peers in Groups • Most children usually have one or a few very close friends and some less close additional friends with whom they spend time and share activities • These groups tend to exists within a larger social network of peers that hangs together loosely • The Nature of Young Children’s Groups • Very young children, including toddlers, sometimes interact in small groups • One striking feature of these first peer groups is the early emergence of status patterns within them, with some children being more dominant and central to group activities than others • By the time children are preschool age, there is a clear dominance hierarchy among the members of a peer group • By middle childhood, status in the peer groups involves much more than dominance, and children become very concerned about their peer-group standing • Cliques and Social Networks in Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence • Cliques: friendship groups that children voluntarily form or join themselves • In middle childhood, clique members are usually of the same sex and race and typically number between three and nine • Although friends tend to be members of the same clique, many members of a clique do not view each other as close friend • A key feature that underlies cliques and binds their members together is the similarities the members share • Membership in a clique seems to increase the likelihood that children will exhibit behaviours similar to those of other group members • Membership of cliques tend to be stable for only a few weeks • Girls and boys who are central to the peer group are likely to be popular, athletic, cooperative, seen as leaders, and studious relative to other peers WEEK 11: PEER RELATIONSHIPS • Cliques and Social Networks in Adolescence • From age 11-18 there is a marked drop in the number of students who belong to a single clique and an increase in the number of adolescents who have ties to many cliques or to students at the margins of cliques • There also is an increase in the stability of cliques • In later adolescence, the importance of belonging to a clique and of conforming to its norms appears to decline • Crowds: groups of adolescents who have similar stereotyped reputations • Which crowd adolescents belong to is often not their choice; crowd “membership” is frequently assigned to the individual by the consensus of the peer group, even though the individual may actually spend little time with other members of his or her designated crowd • Being associated with a crowd may enhance or hurt adolescents reputation and influence how they are treated by peers • Boys and Girls and Crowds • In adolescence, girls are more likely than boys to be integrated into cliques and to draw a large • Negative Influences of Cliques and Social Networks • Members of the clique or the larger peer network can sometimes lead the child or adolescent astray • Adolescents who have an extreme orientation to peers are particularly at risk for such behaviors if engaging in them secures peer acceptance • Perhaps the greatest potential fro negative peer-group influence comes with membership in a gang • Gang: a loosely organized group of adolescents or young adults who identify as a group and often engage in illegal activities • Gang members often say that they join or stay in a gang for protection from other gangs • Gangs also provide members with a sense of belonging and a way to spend their time • Many gang members frequently engage in antisocial and illegal activities • Adolescent males and females tend to engage in more illegal activities • When they are in a gang than when they are not or in a gang for a shorter period of time • Students involved in athletics and fraternities or sororities are more likely than are other students to engage in binge drinking, in part because the practice tend to be positively sanctioned by those groups as a regular part of their social activities • The potential for peer-group influence to promote problem behaviour is affected by family and cultural influences • Strength of peer influence on problem behaviour can vary by culture and subculture Status in the Peer Group • Rejection by peers is associated with a range of developmental outcomes for children, these relations can hold independent of any effects of having, or not having, close friends • Measurement of Peer Status WEEK 11: PEER RELATIONSHIPS • The most common method developmentalists use to assess peer status is to ask children to rate how much they like or dislike each of their classmates • Information from these procedures is used to calculate the children's sociometric status • Sociometric Status: a measurement that reflects the degree to which children are liked or disliked by their peers as a group
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