Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Peer Relations What functions do peer groups serve? How are family and peer relations linked? How extensively do adolescents engage in conformity? What kinds of statuses do peers have? Peer Group Functions Adolescents have strong needs to be liked and accepted by friends and the larger peer group. To many adolescents, how they are seen by peers is the most important aspect of their lives. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Peers Individuals who are about the same age or maturity level. Same-age peer interaction serves a unique role in U.S. culture. Age grading would occur even if schools were not graded and adolescents were left alone to determine the composition of their own societies. One of the most important functions of the peer group is to provide a source of information about the world outside the family. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Peer Contexts Peer interaction is influenced by contexts, which can include the type of peer the adolescent interacts with. An acquaintance A crowd A clique A friend A romantic partner Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Peer Contexts (Continued) Peer interaction is also influenced by the situation or location where they are. School Neighborhood Community center Dance Religious setting Sporting event Culture (Brown & Larson, 2009; Brown & others, 2008) Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Individual Difference Factors Among the wide range of individual differences that can affect peer relations are personality traits. Other individual differences include: How open the adolescent is to peer influence. The status/power of the adolescent versus the status/power of the other adolescent or adolescent peer group (Brown & Larson, 2009; Brown & others, 2008). Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Developmental Changes in Time Spent with Peers Boys and girls spend an increasing amount of time in peer interaction during middle and late childhood and adolescence. By adolescence, peer relations occupy large chunks of an individual’s life. In one investigation, over the course of one weekend, young adolescent boys and girls spent more than twice as much time with peers than with parents (Condry, Simon, & Bronfenbrenner, 1968). Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Are Peers Necessary for Development? Good peer relations might be necessary for normal social development in adolescence. Social isolation is linked with many different forms of problems and disorders, ranging from delinquency and problem drinking to depression (Dishion, Piehler, & Myers, 2008). Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Positive Peer Relations Through peer interaction children and adolescents learn the symmetrical reciprocity mode of relationships. Adolescents explore the principles of fairness and justice by working through disagreements with peers. They also learn to be keen observers of peers’ interests and perspectives in order to smoothly integrate themselves into ongoing peer activities. Adolescents learn to be skilled and sensitive partners in intimate relationships. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Negative Peer Relations Being rejected or overlooked by peers leads some adolescents to feel lonely or hostile. Rejection and neglect by peers are related to an individual’s subsequent mental health and criminal problems (Bukowski, Brendgen, & Vitaro, 2007). Time spent hanging out with antisocial peers in adolescence was a stronger predictor of substance abuse than time spent with parents (Nation & Heflinger, 2006). Deviant peer affiliation was related to adolescents’ depressive symptoms (Connell & Dishion, 2006). Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Family-Peer Linkages • Parents have little authority over adolescents’ choices in some areas but more authority of choices in other areas. • Adolescents do show a strong motivation to be with their peers and become independent. • Adolescents live in a connected world with parents and peers, not a disconnected one (Allen & Antonishak, 2008;Dodge & others, 2006). Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Family-Peer Linkages (Continued) • What are some of the ways the worlds of parents and peers are connected? • Parents’ choices of neighborhoods, churches, schools, and their own friends influence the pool from which their adolescents select possible friends (Cooper & Ayers-Lopez, 1985). • Parents can model or coach their adolescents in ways of relating to peers. • Secure attachment to parents is related to the adolescent’s positive peer relations (Allen & Antonishak, 2008). Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Peer Pressure • Young adolescents conform more to peer standards than children do. • Around the 8th and 9th grades, conformity to peers—especially to their antisocial standards—peaks (Berndt, 1979; Brown & Larson, 2009; Brown & others, 2008). • A recent study revealed that 14 to 18 years of age is an especially important time for developing the ability to stand up for what one believes and resist peer pressure to do otherwise (Steinberg & Monahan, 2007). Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Peer Pressure (Continued) • Which adolescents are most likely to conform? • Cohen & Prinstein, 2006; Prinstein, 2007; Prinstein & Dodge, 2008 have concluded the following adolescents are more likely to conform: • Adolescents who are uncertain about their social identity. • Have low self-esteem. • Have high social anxiety. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Peer Statuses • The term sociometric status is used to describe the extent to which children and adolescents are liked or disliked by their peer group. – Assessed by asking children to rate how much they like or dislike each of their classmates. – Also assessed by asking children and adolescents to nominate the peers they like and those they like the least. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Peer Statuses (Continued) • Developmentalists have distinguished five types of peer statuses (Wentzel & Asher, 1995). • Popular children • Are frequently nominated as a best friend and are rarely disliked by their peers. • Average children • Receive an average number of both positive and negative nominations from their peers. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Peer Statuses (Continued) • Neglected children • Are infrequently nominated as a best friend but are not disliked by their peers. • Rejected children • Are infrequently nominated as someone’s best friend and are actively disliked by their peers. • Controversial children • Are frequently nominated both as someone’s best friend and as being disliked. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • An analysis by John Coie (2004, pp. 252-253) provided three reasons why aggressive peer-rejected boys have problems in social relationships. 1. Rejected, aggressive boys are more impulsive and have problems sustaining attention. 2. Rejected, aggressive boys are more emotionally reactive. 3. Rejected children have fewer social skills in making friends and maintaining positive relationships with peers. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Not all rejected children are aggressive (Hymel, McDougall, & Renshaw, 2004). • Approximately 10 to 20 percent of rejected children are shy. • Much of the peer status research involves samples from middle and late childhood, and in some cases early adolescence, but not late adolescence. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Social Cognition and Emotion • Social cognitive skills and social knowledge of adolescents are important aspects of successful peer relations. So is the ability to manage and regulate one’s emotions. • Social cognition involves thoughts about social matters (Smetana & Villalobos, 2009). • A distinction can be made between knowledge and process in social cognition. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Social Cognition • As children move into adolescence, they acquire more social knowledge. • There is considerable individual variation in how much one adolescent knows about what it takes to make friends. • From a social cognitive perspective, children and adolescents may have difficulty in peer relations because they lack appropriate social cognitive skills (Bibok, Carpendale, & Lewis, 2008: Mueller & others, 2008; Rah & Parke, 2008). Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Generation of Alternative Solutions and Adaptive Planning by Negative- and Positive-Peer-Status Boys Fig. 9.1 Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Emotion • Not only does cognition play an important role in peer relations, so does emotion. • Moody and emotionally negative individuals experience greater rejection by peers. • Emotionally positive individuals are more popular (Saarni & others, 2006). Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Strategies for Improving Social Skills • Conglomerate strategies (coaching) – Involves the use of a combination of techniques, rather than a single approach, to improve adolescents’ social skills. – A conglomerate strategy may consist of: • • • • Modeling of appropriate social skills. Discussion. Reasoning about the social skills. Reinforcement for enactment in actual social situations. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Strategies for Improving Social Skills (Continued) • Social-skills training programs have generally been more successful with children 10 years of age or younger than with adolescents (Malik & Furman, 1993). • Peer reputations become more fixed as cliques and peer groups become more significant in adolescence. • Once an adolescent gains a negative reputation among peers as being “mean,” “weird,” or a “loner,” the peer group’s attitude is often slow to change, even after the adolescent’s problem behavior has been corrected. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Friendship • Friends are a subset of peers who engage in mutual companionship, support, and intimacy. • Relationships with friends are much closer and more involved than is the case with the peer group. • Some adolescents have several close friends, others one, and yet others none. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship The Functions of Friendship Companionship Stimulation Physical support Ego support Social Comparison Intimacy/affection Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Harry Stack Sullivan’s (1953) Ideas on Changes in Friendship in Early Adolescence • Sullivan argued that friends are important in shaping the development of children and adolescents. • During adolescence, said Sullivan, friends become increasingly important in meeting social needs. • Sullivan argued that the need for intimacy intensifies during early adolescence, motivating teenagers to seek out close friends. • If adolescents failed to forge such close friendships, they experience loneliness and a reduced sense of self-worth. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship Developmental Changes in Self-Disclosing Conversations Fig. 9.3 Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Viewed from the developmental constructionist perspective adolescent friendship represents a new mode of relating to others that is best described as a symmetrical intimate mode. • The greater intimacy of adolescent friendships demands requires learning a number of close relationship competencies, including: • Knowing how to self-disclose appropriately. • Being able to provide emotional support to friends. • Managing disagreements in ways that do not undermine the intimacy of the friendship. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Intimacy • Defined broadly it includes everything in a relationship that makes the relationship seem close or intense. • Defined narrowly as self-disclosure or sharing of private thoughts. • The most consistent finding in the last two decades of research on adolescent friendships is that intimacy is an important feature of friendship (Selman, 1980). Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Similarity • Friends are generally similar—in terms of age, sex, ethnicity, and other factors. • Similarity is referred to as homophily, the tendency to associate with similar others (Prinstein & Dodge, 2008: Rubin, Fredstorm, & Bowker, 2008). • Friends often have similar attitudes toward school, similar educational aspirations, and closely aligned achievement orientations. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Loneliness • For some individuals loneliness is a chronic condition. • Chronic loneliness is linked with impaired physical and mental health (Karnick, 2008). • It is important to distinguish loneliness from the desire for solitude. Exploring Peer Relations and Friendship • Loneliness (Continued) • Loneliness is often interwoven with the passage through life transitions: • A move to a different part of the country. • A divorce. • The death of a close friend or family member. • The first year of college may create loneliness especially if students leave the familiar world of their hometown and family to enter college. Dating and Romantic Relationships Functions of Dating Dating is a relatively recent phenomenon. In the 1920s, it became a reality. Its primary role was to select and win a mate. Dating has evolved into something more than just courtship for marriage. Dating and Romantic Relationships Dating today can serve at least seven functions (Paul & White, 1990): Recreation. Source of status and achievement. Part of the socialization process. Involves learning about intimacy. Provide companionship. Identity formation and development. A means of mate sorting and selection. Adolescent Groups Age of Onset of Romantic Activity Fig. 9.5 Dating and Romantic Relationships Emotion, Adjustment, and Romantic Relationships Romantic emotions can envelop adolescents’ and emerging adults’ lives (Connolly & McIssac, 2009). Emotions are positive, in others negative. A concern is that in some cases the negative emotions are too intense and prolonged, and can lead to adjustment problems. Dating and Adjustment Linked with various measures of how well adjusted adolescents are (Barber, 2006; Connolly & McIssac, 2009). Dating and Romantic Relationships Dissolution of a Romantic Relationship Being in love when love is not returned can lead to: Depression. Obsessive thoughts. Sexual dysfunction. Inability to work effectively. Difficulty in making new friends. Self-condemnation. Thinking clearly in such relationships is often difficult, because the person is so colored by arousing emotions. Dating and Romantic Relationships Dissolution of a Romantic Relationship Studies of romantic breakups have mainly focused on their negative aspects (Kato, 2005). Few studies have examined the possibility that a romantic breakup might lead to positive changes (Sbarra & Ferrer, 2006).