Friendship in Childhood & Adolensence

Child development in A2 Psychology

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  • Created by: CassieMcP
  • Created on: 04-01-10 17:32

Friendship- Close relationship between two people, as indicated by their associations together or their psychological attachments and trust.

Erwin suggest friendship is:

· The development of interactional cognitive skills.

· Opportunity for intimacy.

· Exchange & test knowledge about people and the world.

· Emotional buffer.

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Key Study!

Aim: Dalmon investigated age related differences in the understanding of friendship.

Method: Asked questions e.g. “Tell me about your best friend”. The content of the reply’s were analysed and categorised into 3 levels of understanding.


Under 7: Few likes & dislikes à quickly formed & lost.

8-11: Mutual interests à Trust and responsiveness/ kindness.

12+: Deep, Enduring, Intimacy.

Conclusion: Friendships become more complex with age à mutuality à focus moves from shared activities to intimacy and understanding.

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Selman stages of social understanding!

Age 12: Extreme intensity + independence

Age 10-15: Very close= Jealousy/possessiveness

Aged 7-12: Reciprocal relationships with some idea of the other persons needs ‘fair-weather co-operation’

Aged 5-9: Friend is a one way assistant

Aged 3-6: Friend is a partner in physical interactions

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Observational studies

· 2 year olds have often have preferences for a particular playmate.

· By 4 years about 50% have a preferred friend.

· Levitt et al found 7 year olds reported feeling close to friends and family.

· 7-10 year olds were self-disclosed towards parents.

· 15 year olds are most likely to self-disclose towards friends.

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Bigelow and La Gaipa

Studied childrens 'my best friend' stories.

Younger children focus was on:

Living Close

Play and Common interest

Older children focus was on:



Less emphasis on physical interaction and more focus on psychological characteristics and concern for others

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  • Language ability may be confounding variable in some studies. Older children can express complex emotional ideas more easily than younger
  • Catergorisation of dilemma responces/content of stories maybe subjective.
  • Hypotheical dilemma responces may not reflect real life-reasoning.
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Sex Differences in childrens friendship

Boys= EXTENSIVE- Larger groups and focus on shared activites.

Girls= INTENSIVE- Intimate friendships in pairs and emotional closeness.

...Continue into adolenscense.

Short Study

Benenson and Charistakos found that among 10-15yrs girls had more 'best friends', boys friendship however, last longer.

Girls worry more about friendship.

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Key studie for Sex Differences in children's frien

Study: Benenson

Interviewed 10yrs and used rating scales to determine important aspects of friendships. The boys revelaed friendships of large interconnected groups...

Focus on status of the group.

The girls data revealed intimate friendships or 'cliques'.

Concluded that social networks are different for boy's and girls.

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Key studie for Sex Differences in children's frien

Study: Lever

In'v 10yrs US boys and girls about their friendships.

Girls preferred a best friend and were happy to show affection and share secrets.

They were also more anxious about threats to friendships and more jelous

Boy's friendships were more open and group focused.

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Popularity and Rejection

Coie and Dodge indentified 5 types of child: Popular, average, controverisual neglected and rejected.

Rejected children can be identified into 2 types (Berk)

  • Rejected-argressive:- Impulsive, agressive, hyperactive and lacking in ability to understand others.
  • Rejected-withdrawn:- passive,socially withdrawn, high in social anxiety and ofter bullied.
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Causes of Popular and Rejected

  • Simularity:- Children choose friends that are simiular e.g. sex, and age. Unsual or deviant children will be excluded from this. Kandal found that friendships last longer if simularity is found.
  • Attractiveness:- Prefrence to attractive peers, this effects girls more than boys, it may be linked to status or 'being a good sport'
  • Personality:- Rejected children are often agressive and disruptive Dodge found a link between personality traits and their popularity.
  • Early realationships:- According to IWMM, the earliest bonds act as the lead for future ones. It may be that unpopular and rejected children had unstaisfactory bonds and lack and appropiat internal working model.
  • Poor social skills.
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Key studie

Dodge et al

Observed playground behaviour, watching a 3rd child trying to join in with a pair already playing together.

Popular catorgrized children were adept and able to join in.

Neglect children didnt attempt to join in.

Rejected children approach was to disruptive and forceful

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Dodge Evaluation

  • A clear cause and effect relationship cannot easily be established, Rejection may cause aggression rather than the other way round.
  • Learning social skills can help advoid rejection
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Rejected children are more likely to have psychiatric problems as adults.

Cowen found that they experience alcoholism and get into trouble with the law.


  • The consequence between case and effect cannot be determined.
  • Shaffer suggests that aggressiveness may be the key factor rather than rejection.
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Fyzah :p


Thanks ^_^

This is great :)

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