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CHAPTER 6 The Peer Context in Middle Childhood Willard W. Hartup Socialization in the peer context varies from culture to culture, with considerable variation existing in the onset of a child's earliest expe- riences with other children. In most societies, children begin to socialize with one another in early childhood; sustained and coordinated social in- teraction becomes evident in the years between 3 and 6. Both quantitative and qualitative changes occur in middle childhood, and, between the ages of 6 and 12, socialization in the peer context becomes a central issue in children's lives. The peer system can be represented as a matrix of contexts and compo- nents (see Figure 6-1~. The vertical axis of this matrix consists of a hier- archical ordering (Hinde, 1976) of various social contexts. The most basic of these are interactions, i.e., meaningful encounters between two or more individuals. Relationships are interactions between individuals (known to each other) that persist over time and that involve expectations, affects, and characteristic configurations of interactions. Groups, subsuming both interactions and relationships, possess structural and normative dimensions that are not evident in either of the other contexts; most commonly, groups are polyadic rather than dyadic. Macrostructures are higher-order social contexts, including entities that we commonly call institutions or societies. These macrostructures consist of dynamic interrelationships among the in- teractions, relationships, and groups that constitute them. Peer contexts involve specific objects and events occurring in specific times and locations. Three situational components can be identified: the 240
PEER CONTEXT Components Contexts Setting Problem Actors 241 Interactions Relationships Groups Macrostructures FIGURE 6~1 The peer system. setting, the "problem," and the actors. Settings consist of the mitieux in which social activity occurs. Problems consist of the challenges existing in these settings that activate or energize the individuals involved. The actors are the individuals with whom the target child interacts. Using this matrix we can describe the structure, content, affects, and diversity of the peer system in each case as a function of context and component. This matrix is not a mode! of the peer system or a theory of social dynamics; it is a simple schematic that can be used to describe the peer system as it has been examined empirically. Less a theoretical statement than a pragmatic device, this matrix focuses attention on the various levels of the individual's commerce with other children. Accordingly, in the various sections of this chapter, peer relationships in middle childhood are discussed with an emphasis on child-child interactions and their changes with age; close relationships and their significance; group formation and functioning; and interconnections between the peer system and two macrostructures the family and the school. Peer interaction and the socialization of the individual child are examined in relation to con- ditions of the setting and the identity of the individuals with whom children interact. Methodological issues are discussed, especially the problems en- countered in obtaining naturalistic data. PEER CONTEXTS Interactions Child-child interaction differs from adult-child interaction in many ways. Barker and Wright (1955) observed that children's actions toward adults are weighted mainly with appeals and submissive acts; actions of adults toward children consist mainly of dominance and nurturance. These interactions are thus concentrated in two complementary issues: the child's dependency
242 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD on the adult and the adult's need to control the child. In contrast, the most common actions of children toward child associates are sociability and as- sertiveness/aggression. Cross-cultural observations (Whiting and Whiting, 1975) are consistent with these results, as are recent interviews with American schoolchildren (Youniss, 1980~. Children see themselves as recipients of adult actions rather than vice versa. In contrast, child-child interactions are seen as revolving around equal exchanges between the actors. Concordantly, "kindnesses" in adult-child interactions are conceived as actions confirming complementary expectations, whereas kindnesses in child-child interactions consist of ac- tions confirming more egalitarian expectations. Close relationships (e.g., friendships or parent-child relationships) usually involve mixtures of com- plementary and equal interactions, but this does not negate the thesis that children differentiate between adult-child and child-child relationships mainly in terms of this dichotomy. The time that children spend together and the nature of their interactions when they are on their own are not well documented. Patterns of interaction have been most extensively examined in ad hoc settings, mainly schools, and it is largely on an anecdotal basis that we have concluded that more and more time is devoted to child-child interactions in middle childhood. Observations of 8 children, each covering an entire day (Barker and Wright, 1955), revealed that approximately 85 percent of the children's activities were social and that the proportion spent with child associates rose from 10 percent at age 2, to 20 percent at age 4, to slightly over 40 percent between ages 7 and ~ I. The school-age children engaged in an average of 299 behavior episodes (i.e., interactive segments marked by constant direction and intent) with other child associates in a typical school day, 45 of these with siblings and the remainder with friends. Detailed records based on observations of one of these children (Barker and Wright, 1951) indicate that most of these episodes consisted of play or "fooling around" and that the interactions consisted mainly of sociability and dominance exchanges. Although these measures are difficult to translate into time units, it can nevertheless be concluded that time spent with child associates consumed hours rather than minutes. More recent time~use studies clarify, to some extent, what children do with one another on their own. Even so, the frequencies of their activities and the structures of the social interactions remain unstudied. Using inter- views with 764 sixth graders in Oakland, California, Medrich et al. (1982) asked the children to enumerate "what you like to do when you are with your friends." Responses covered a range indicating that, in contrast to time spent alone, children spend their time with their friends engaged in physically
PEER CONTEXT 243 active or "robust" interactions. Team sports accounted for 45 percent and 26 percent of the enumerations of boys and girls, respectively, although other types of robust interactions such as "general play," "going places," and "socializing" were more commonly mentioned by girls than by boys. These interactions occurred most often outside the home, although close to home and more often in private than in public places (e.g., parks and playgrounds), and were segregated by sex. Overall, it appears that a substantial portion of the schooIchild's daily existence is spent in peer interaction and that the content of this interaction consists mainly of play and socializing. Children in many cultures also share work experiences in which they take rums and substitute for one another to a greater extent than when they work with adults (Weisner, 1982~. The proportion of child-child interactions spent in work and in play thus varies from culture to culture, but the nature of this interaction seems universally to be more egalitarian than the interaction that occurs between children and adults. The two classes of child-child interaction most extensively studied in developmental terms are aggression and prosocial activity. Overall, aggres- sion decreases in middle childhood, although both mode and content change (Parke and Slaby, 1983~. Physical aggression (more common among boys than among girIs) and quarreling decrease, although abusive verbal ex- changes increase. Schoolchildren typically engage in instrumental aggression (directed toward retrieving objects and the like) less frequently than younger children, although person-directed hostile aggression is more common among older ones. Increasingly salient in middle childhood are insults, derogation, and other threats to self-esteem (Hartup, 19741. Between ages 6 and 12, aggressive boys are more ready to attribute hostile intent to others than are nonaggressive boys. In addition, their associates more often attribute hostile intentions to aggressive than nonaggressive boys, and the former are more often targets of aggression (Dodge, 1980; Dodge and Frame, 1982~. Indi- vidual differences in aggression among school-age males thus come to be associated with social cognitive biases (a willingness to perceive hostility in others), negative experiences with others, and "bad" social reputations. Certain studies indicate that sharing and other forms of altruism increase in middle childhood; others suggest that these growth functions are more complex (Radke-Yarrow et al., 1983~. In one investigation, for example, no relationship was found between age and the amount of sharing among kindergarten and second and fourth grade students, but among the older children more individuals shared, more individuals shared in "complex" situations, and more advanced reasoning was used to rationalize the altruism (Bar-Tal et al., 1980~. Still other evidence suggests that age differences in
244 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD altruism vary according to context. Kindergarten children were found to intervene directly in assisting another child with a difficult task, but third graders differentiated their assistance according to the situation the older children would usually offer suggestions or assistance before actually giving it, and sometimes intervention would be withheld altogether (Milburg, McCabe, and Kobasigawa, unpublished data). Thus, there is evidence that complex attributions become increasingly involved in prosocial interactions as well as aggressive interactions in middle childhood. Competition, in contrast to cooperation, increases with age when rewards are allocated in proportion to the number of points accumulated in a game (AvelIar and Kagan, 1976) or when points are tallied (McClintock, 19741. These age gradients occur more clearly in some cultures (the United States, Japan) than in others (Mexico, Kenya). With outcome controlled, com- petitive preferences are not as clearly evident, and in some tasks cooperation increases with age (Kagan et al., 1977; Skarin and Moely, 1976~. Chron- ological age and goal structure thus seem to interact in children's cooperative and competitive choices. Studies of American children reveal that increases in competition under winner-takes~all conditions occur mainly in the preschool years; cooperation under shared reward conditions increases mainly between ages 6 and 8; and age differences in individualistic (proportional reward) conditions vary ac- cording to the manner in which a child's gains are linked to the gains of others (McClintock and Moskowitz, 1976; McClintock et al., 1977~. With time, children differentially use strategies that coincide with the goal struc- tures associated with obtaining valued outcomes. Children do not simply become more competitive or cooperative as they grow older. They become sensitive to the contingencies controlling the incentives that are important to them. Again, cognitive and social factors seem to determine the nature of child~child interactions in middle childhood. More detailed studies, including direct assessment of the attributions made by children in distress or conflict situations, are relatively rare. We know that (a) the social cues used in interactions (e.g., facial expression, vocal intonation) are encoded with increasing accuracy between ages 6 and 10 (Girgus and Wolf, 1975~; (b) visual attention is increasingly utilized in conversation (Levine and Sutton-Smith, 1973~; (c) increases occur in speak- ers' abilities to transmit information about simple problems to listeners and to respond appropriately to queries from their listeners, and listeners' util- ization of feedback improves (see, e.g., Karabenick and Miller, 1977~; (d) abilities to infer motivation and intent in simulated social situations increase in middle childhood, although these trends are most evident in cognitively complex situations (see Shantz, 1983~; and (e) increases occur in children's abilities to integrate two sources of information as opposed to one (Brady
PEER CONTEXT 245 et al., 1983~. These results suggest that a variety of cognitive constraints on social interaction become less evident in middle childhood. These con- straints appear to involve the coding, storage, and retrieval of information as well as the integration and application of information in social situations. Existing studies thus provide a general characterization of child-child interactions between ages 6 and 12. First, time spent with child associates increases. Second, children become more adept at sending and receiving messages, in utilizing information from a variety of sources to determine their actions toward other children, in making causal attributions, and in coordinating their actions with those of others. We are only beginning, however, to understand the manner in which changes in the content and structure of child-child interactions reflect changes in cognitive functioning (Hartup et al., 1983~. Relationships Social Attraction Sociometric techniques have been used to examine the characteristics that make children attractive to one another. Usually, sociometric interviews are administered concurrently with personality and intelligence tests or with behavioral ratings made by teachers, children, or observers, and the various scores are correlated. We know three things. First, social attractiveness is associated with sociocultural conditions. So- cial class is positively correlated with attractiveness (Grossman and Wright- er, 1948), and recent studies indicate that socioeconomic variations may exist in the values concomitant with sociometric status. For example, pop- ularity in middle-cIass schools is correlated with the use of positive verbal overtures among children, whereas status in working-class schools is asso- ciated with the use of nonverbal overtures. Middle-ciass children who engage in nonverbal interactions, even though positive, are actually rejected more often than children who do not use these techniques (Gottman et al., 1975~. Second, characteristics of the child are correlated with social attraction. Being liked is associated with being physically attractive, socially outgoing, and supportive of others; achievements in school and in sports are also positively associated with social attractiveness. Being rejected is associated with being unattractive, immature, disruptive, and aggressive in indirect ways. Rejected children, however, are not necessarily more aggressive in general than their nonrejecteU peers (see Hartup, 19831. Third, children's reputations mirror these differences. Sociometric "stars" and "average" children have social reputations that are accepting and that allow them considerable flexibility in dealing with their companions (New
246 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD comb and Rogosch, 19821. These children are regarded by their associates as cooperative, supportive, and attractive (Coie et al., 1982~. Rejected children are restricted by their reputations and the negative expectations of their companions. They tend to be perceived as disruptive and indirectly aggressive (Coie et al., 1982~. The causal connections underlying these results are presumably bidirec- tional. That is, the well-liked child appears to possess a repertoire of effective social skills and a positive social reputation conditions associated with a high probability that other children will behave supportively. This support in rum maintains the competent behaviors and the child's social reputation. Similarly, negative attributes seem to undergird negative social reputations, nonsupportive feedback from one's associates, and in rum a continuation of the negative behaviors (see Cole and Kupersmidt, 1983; Dodge and Frame, 1982~. Certain side effects of these conditions have been documented. Popular and rejected children, for example, are members of distinctive social net- works. Rejected children, compared with popular children, socialize on the playground in small groups and more frequently interact with younger and/ or unpopular companions. The social networks of popular children are more likely to be composed of mutual friends and to be characterized as cliquish (Ladd, 19831. These distinctive networks suggest the existence of a self- maintaining cleavage between popular and rejected children. Social attrac- tion thus seems to involve a nexus of social skills, social reputations, the extent to which one socializes with friends, and the extensiveness of one's social world. Most likely this nexus is mediated through an intricate set of self~attitudes and emotions. To date, studies of self-esteem, self-conceptions, and social acceptance have not been convincing. Several investigators have noted small correlations between self-esteem and popularity (Horowitz, 1962; Sears and Sherman, 1964), but other results suggest that any correlation is curvilinear. Reese (1961) found that children with moderately high self-esteem were better accepted by their peers than were children with either low or very high self-esteem. Sixth graders with high self-esteem have been shown to make more extreme statements about the likability of others than their low self-esteem counterparts; the extent to which these children believe their evaluations of others are reciprocal is also positively related to self-esteem (Cook et al., 1978~. But the self-system is involved in social relationships in very complex ways. Dodge and Frame (1982), for example, found that aggressive boys were characterized by hostile attribution biases only when the provocation was directed toward themselves. These biases were not evident in situations involving provocations directed at someone else. /
PEER CONTEXT 247 Developmental changes in social attraction have been examined relatively rarely. For one thing, the characteristics associated with sociometric status do not appear to change with age. Friendliness is as strongly associated with popularity among older children as among younger children; indirect aggres- sion is as strongly associated with rejection. Nevertheless, recent investi- gations reveal that more of the variance in social preferences can be predicted by fewer variables among young children than among older children. Social impact, too, rests on fewer attributes among younger children than among older ones (Coie et al., 1982~. The results thus seem to indicate that person perception becomes more differentiated as children grow older a conclusion that is consistent with the results of other investigations in which children's descriptions of one another were examined in relation to chronological age (Livesley and Bromiey, 1973~. Also, certain sociometric dimensions may become increasingly stable in the years between 6 and 12. For example, rejection status was observed to be stable over a 5-year span when assessment was initiated in the fifth grade but only over 3 years when initiated in the third grade (Coie and Dodge, 1983~. These results suggest that a "crystallization" may occur in social relationships toward the end of middle childhood. Friendship Selection Children and their friends usually live in the same neighborhood, a con- dition that prevails in both early and middle childhood (Epstein, in press; Fine, 1980~. Young children depend on their caretakers to put them in contact with other children more than school-age children do, and classroom proximity becomes salient in friendship selection in middle childhood. Con- ditions within classrooms, including seating arrangements and classroom organization, are also reflected in friendship selection. Children select their friends mainly from among children their own age. When classroom conditions favor mixed-age choices (as in a one-room school), more than 67 percent of children in the first 6 grades have one or more friends of some other age (Allen and Devin-Sheehan, 1976~. Never- theless, the tendency for children and their friends to be similar in age is very strong. Whether this concordance derives from the age segregation that marks most schools and children's institutions or from children's own pref- erences is not certain. Moreover, there may be no way to resolve this issue, since age grading is pervasive in Westem cultures. Children and their friends are most commonly of the same sex (Tuma and Hallinan, 1977~. This concordance peaks between ages 6 and 12, even though same-sex choices are more common than other-sex choices from the preschool years through adolescence. Since sex segregation is not common
248 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD in schools except in sports activities, the concordance may derive from norms generated by children themselves rather than from the normative expec- tations of adults. Fewer cross~race friendship selections occur in integrated classrooms than would be expected on the basis of chance, and this cleavage increases be- tween ages 6 and 12 as determined by longitudinal studies (Singleton and Asher, 1979~. Racial differentiations are not as strong in children's selection of playmates or work companions as in friendship choices, and age differences are not as evident (Asher et al., 1982~. Behavioral similarities and their role in mutual attraction in middle child- hood have not been well studied. Handel (1978), on the basis of one study of a large sample of adolescents, concluded that these similarities are not especially important in the selection of associates, except for similarities in significant nonnormative attitudes (e.g., about drug use). Given the im- portance to children of "doing things together" with their friends, it is difficult to believe that behavioral concordances are irrelevant in these selections (Smoliar and Youniss, 1982~. Nevertheless, except for a small number of investigations using global measures such as I, school achieve- ment, or sociometric status, which show very modest concordance between children and their friends, this issue has not been closely examined. This state of affairs is unfortunate, since it has been known for some time that school-age children, like adults, demonstrate greater attraction for peers with whom they share many attitudes than for individuals with whom they share relatively few (Byme and Griffitt, 1966~. Acquaintances Friendship formation begins with acquaintanceship. As two individuals become familiar with each other, attraction seems to increase (Berscheid and Walster, 1978~. Mere exposure (Zajonc, 1968) may account for these effects, and familiarization may also establish a secure base for social inter- action; moreover, as individuals become acquainted with one another, their social repertoires become better meshed and more efficient. Various studies (mostly with younger children) support these ideas. To date, however, these hypotheses have not been used to any great extent in investigations with school-age children. To investigate children's notions about the manner in which two indi- viduals become friends, SmolIar and Youniss (1982) asked three questions of subjects between ages 6 and 13: "What do you think might happen to make X and Y become friends?" "Not become friends?" "To become best friends?" The children's responses differed according to their ages. Younger
PEER CONTEXT 249 children indicated that strangers would become friends if they did something together or did something special for one another. Children would become best friends, according to the younger children, if they could spend increased amounts of time together, especially outside school. In contrast, the older children emphasized getting to know each other ("talk and talk and find out if they like the same thinnish; discovering similarities between themselves was considered necessary to becoming best friends. Not becoming friends was associated among the younger children with negative or inequitable interaction. This condition was identified among the older children with the discovery that two individuals are different. What is interesting in these findings is the revelation that concordance was viewed as essential in friend- ship formation at all ages; it was mainly the expression of these concordances that differed with age. Younger children emphasized concrete reciprocities, while older children emphasized psychological similarities (e.g., in person- ality, likes, and attitudes). Microanalytic studies of acquaintance interactions do not extend more than to the first few encounters between children. Virtually no develop- mental studies have been executed. First encounters differ with respect to a number of conditions, including the sociometric status of the children involved. When both children are of high status, information giving and seeking are more frequent than when both children are of tow status. Dis- cussions about school, sports, the children themselves, and their acquaint- ances are common. Pairs of third- and fourth-grade children that include one high-status and one low-status child are virtually identical in these respects to those of two high-ranking children, presumably because the interaction is driven by the high-status member (Newcomb and Meister, 19821. A second investigation revealed that "stars" and sociometrically "average" third-grade children engaged in more introductory activity and information exchange, earlier onset of affective communication, and game- playing than "isolate" or "rejected" dyads. In contrast, isolates and rejected children attempted to initiate games more frequently but engaged in more inappropriate interactions than did stars or average dyads (Newcomb et al., 1982~. These analyses thus indicate that a major function of the early encounters between children is assessment of interests and similarities. Other studies indicate that synchronization is an outcome of the early encounters between strangers. Brody et al. (in press) observed triads of first- and third-grade children from different classrooms before and after a series of five play sessions. Postfamiliarization measures revealed more verbal in- teraction and improved task performance than among control subjects, in- dicating better meshing of individual contributions to task solution. Since mere exposure seems to have variable effects on social attraction among
250 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD children (Cantor and Kubose, 1969), early social encounters seem mainly to provide a basis for interaction via the sharing of information and behav- ioral coordination. Beyond this, no clear picture of acquaintanceship proc- esses emerges, and the features of acquaintance interaction that favor the continuance of an association are unknown. Friends School-age children have, on the average, five best friends a number that is a bit higher than the number of friends acknowledged by preschool children and adolescents (Hallinan, 19801. In addition, relatively few (2 percent) have no friends when choosing in sociometric interviews, although a somewhat larger number (between 6 and 11 percent) are not chosen themselves. These frequencies do not change from age 6 to 12, although age differences have never been studied adequately (Epstein, in press). School- age children and their friends tend to be linked in twosomes rather than in the larger interlocking networks known as cliques or crowds. Relatively few cliques are observed in most elementary school classrooms, in contrast to junior and senior high school (Hallinan, 1976~. Considerable interest is now evident among investigators in the social interaction of friends. Most of the recent work draws heavily from the theories of Harry Stack Sullivan (1953), who argued that friendships are hallmarks of the "juvenile era," reflecting new needs for interpersonal intimacy and new contexts for their expression. Recurrent themes in contemporary research are reciprocity, eq- uity, fairness, mutuality, and intimacy as these mark both children's con- ceptions of their friends and their behavior with them. Presumably, these themes become more and more important in middle childhood, so that the need for developmental studies is especially acute. Cross-sectional studies confirm that friendship expectations among school- children revolve around these issues. Development does not involve a change from the absence of reciprocity expectations among younger children to their presence. Reciprocity norms are evident among kindergartners (Bem~t, 1977~. Interviews (Youniss, 1980) end written essays (Bigelow, 1977) confirm that "reward-cost" reciprocities figure prominently in children's expectations of their friends at all ages. Bigelow's work suggests a progression from expec- tations among second and third graders that are based on common activities to sharing of rewards and other equities to mutual understanding, self-dis- closure, and the sharing of interests among fifth and sixth graders. Youniss's studies suggest that young friends "match" each other's contributions to the interaction; older friends evidence equality and equal treatment in their relationships with one another; and young adolescents stress interpersonal
PEER CONTEXT 251 intimacy. Thus, the case can be made that the major changes in children's friendship expectations occur in the way children use notions about reci- procities in social relationships rather than in the emergence de nova of generalized notions about fairness and mutuality. Individual differences in these understandings are largely unexplored except for the work of Selman (1980), and a connection between these social cognitive changes and be- havior with friends has not been established. Observational studies confirm that friendships are based on reciprocity and mutuality, but age changes in the behavioral manifestations of these reciprocities have been difficult to document. (Presumably, this derives from the difficulty of measuring the subtle affective and instrumental components of intimacy via direct observation.) Laboratory studies reveal that in co- operative settings friends are more interactive, affective, attentive to equity rules, mutually directive, and explore the materials more extensively than nonfriends (Foot et al., 1977; Newcomb and Brady, 1982; Newcomb et al., 1979~. Changes in these differences with age are not dramatic in middle childhood (Newcomb et al., 1979~. BemUt (198Ib) found that fourth-grade friends assisted their partners and were more willing to share rewards with each other than were first graders. These changes are not striking until early adolescence, however, and then they occur most commonly when children have a choice between cooperation or competition in the task. Competitive settings change the interaction between friends. In these situations, mates are more competitive and less generous with their friends than with nonfriends (Bem~t, 1981a). Competition also occurs more com- monly between friends than between nonfriends when property rights are clearly understood (Staub and Noerenberg, 1981~. Thus, under certain cir' cumstances, friendship may furnish a basis for competition, even though in others it furnishes a basis for equity considerations and generosity. Studies of adults indicate that close relationships may maintain a basis for hostile, aggressive interaction as well as supportive, affectionate interaction. What evidence we have suggests that children also manifest these complexities, even though these elements are not well understood. Future investigations must concentrate not only on the documentation of fairness norms in friend- ship interactions in middle childhood but also on a complex array of attri' buttons that make for distinctive interactions between children according to context. More and more, the contemporary evidence stresses the importance of close relationships in childhood. Much remains to be documented, however, about children and their friends. Especially needed are studies addressing four issues: (1) the temporal course of friendships, including the accom' modations made by friends to stress that comes from both inside and outside
252 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD the relationship; (2) developmental vicissitudes, including the manner in which expectations and attributions among friends are connected to social interactions and the manner in which these relationships cycle through time; (3) individual differences among friendship pairs in the structure of these relationships, the use of reciprocity rules, the content of interactions, and their affective qualities; and (4) the socializing consequences of friendships, i.e., their role in increasing similarities between children, the developmental implications of having a best friend, and the value of friendships as protective factors in times of stress. The research agenda is formidable. Groups Groups exist when social interaction occurs over time among three or more children, values are shared, the members have a sense of belonging, and a structure exists to support the activities of the collective. Empirical studies have concentrated on three issues: group formation, norms, and structures. Formation Group formation has been understudied since the investigations 20 years ago by Sherif et al. (1961~. That work confirmed the ubiquity of social structures based on power relations, the individual attributes associated with social power, and the emergence of group norms. Group formation has not been studied with children in the early school years, so developmental changes are undocumented. Only two studies have ever been conducted that chart changes in group interaction as a function of the age of the group members (A. Smith, 1960; H. Smith, 1973), and no longitudinal studies document the connections between norms and structures as they cycle through time. Processes in group formation among girls have been described less well than those among boys. Little is known about group formation among chil- dren from minority subcultures. And we know little about the impact of the macrostructure (e.g., schools) on the emergence of children's groups. Again, the research agenda is formidable. Norms Standards of conduct, called norms, govern the actions of group members. Certain norms governing children's interactions with one another emanate from the core culture and presumably derive from earlier socialization e.g., sex-role stereotypes as well as attitudes about authority, equity, and reci
PEER CONTEXT 253 procity. Other norms emanate from group interaction, and these are the norms that adults associate with the peer culture. The existence of these normative frameworks is not in doubt, but the processes through which they emerge are. Knowing more about these processes is essential, however, since these norms may be salient in the development of health behaviors, antisocial activities, and discordance in parent-child relationships in middle childhood and adolescence. On the basis of observations of little league baseball teams, Fine (1980) asserted that five conditions must exist for norms to become established: ~ ~ ~ someone must "know," i. e., possess a bit of social information and introduce it; (2) members must find the information usable; (3) new norms must satisfy some common need; (4) norms must support group structure and vice versa; and (5) circumstances must exist that trigger the normative activity. This framework seems valuable for examining the introduction, maintenance, and cessation of normative activities among children of various ages; these notions have not yet, however, been used extensively in empirical invest tigations. One's own appearance, drinking, drug use, or popularity may determine the selection of one's associates (Dembo et al., 1979; Ladd, 1983~. Longi- tudinal studies suggest that, in addition, one's behavior influences the be- havior of those individuals selected as associates (Britt and Campbell, 1977; Kandel, 1978~. Similarities among group members thus derive from both normative selection and normative socialization. Once again, the connec- tions between these processes in middle childhood are not well understood, despite their obvious significance. Especially understudied are normative constellations as they vary from one enclave to another. Drug users, for example, tend to congregate with one another, although the weight of the evidence suggests that children do not Forrest subcultures that are distinguishable from others except in drug use (Huba et al., 19791. Ordinarily, though, it is assumed that smoking and drug use are especially common in groups of alienated or incompetent chil- dren. Which is correct? What "mixtures" of core-culture and counterculture norms predict antisocial behavior most successfully? So few intergroup com- parisons have been made that it is impossible to answer these questions. Structures Group members differentiate among themselves in terms of social power, i.e., their effectiveness at directing, coordinating, and sanctioning the ac- tivities of other members. These differentiations are the basis for the social structures that are visible in every group. Group structures emerge in social
254 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD interactions in early childhood, and these are relatively well studied. Rel- atively few investigations, however, have documented the existence of hi- erarchical social organizations in middle childhood (Sherif et al., 1961; Strayer and Strayer, 1976~. In some instances these structures seem to be based on dominance inter- actions, although social structures may also be based on being good at games, knowing how to organize activities, and social competence. In general, individual differences in attributes that facilitate the group's objectives are the basis for the social order; structures based on dominance interactions do not always vary concordantly. Leaders are not necessarily tough or mean, nor are they necessarily the most popular children. Leaders are the ones who know what to do. Our notions about group structures have been derived mainly from ob- servations of children in classrooms and summer camps. Classroom obser- vations are notably constrained in providing us with a clear picture of those structures that exist in informal groups. The social structure of the classroom is dominated by an adult (the teacher), and normative activity revolves around academics. Camp settings are not as heavily constrained but have their own limitations. One of the most severe gaps in our knowledge of the social psychology of middle childhood is information about the structure and functioning of informal groups. Omitted from most studies is a consideration of the connections between norms and the social organization. Sherif et al. (1961) documented the intimate relationship between structure and function in social groups, but current investigations have been dominated by the notion that social struc- tures exist mainly to reduce the amount of aggression among group members Gavin-Williams, 1979; Strayer and Strayer, 1976~. Separate considerations of normative functions and social organization have not been wise, however, since this strategy has reduced the interest of investigators in group-to-group variations. These variations need to be better understood, not only to doe' ument the diversity of the social environment but also to better understand the conditions under which children are attracted to membership in certain groups. SITUATIONAL COMPONENTS Setting Conditions The conditions of settings constrain child-child interactions (Barker and Wright, 1951~. Nevertheless, we have no clear idea about where children spend time when they are on their own, let alone what social experience is like in these places. Enough has been accomplished to demonstrate that
PEER CONTEXT 255 child-child interactions vary according to conditions of the setting, but no "ecology of the peer context" emerges from this material. Playthings constrain the amount and maturity of child-child interactions, as examination of the protocols from One Boy's Day (Barker and Wright, 1951 ) shows. Other than the documentation that physical activities promote "robust" interactions and that nonphysical activities are especially associated with helping behaviors (Gump et al., 1957), little is known about playthings and play situations as constraints on social interactions in middle childhood. The availability of resources and the space with which to use them bear on social interactions. Crowding effects have been studied mainly with younger children, and methodological flaws mar many of the studies with school-age children. Space variations apparently do not affect either positive social interaction or aggression in a linear mode. Only when space per child is severely limited is positive interaction reduced and negative interaction increased. With severe crowding, children experience emotional arousal and increased competitiveness (Aiello et al., 1979~. But there is also evidence that access to resources may be more important in determining the nature of child-child interactions than the amount of space available (Smith and Connolly, 1977~. The number of children congregated together is also salient even though, in the primary grades, children tend to interact in dyads rather than in larger sets. Three-child (and larger) enclaves become more common during middle childhood on playgrounds and in parks (Eifermann, 1971), but dyadic interaction, with its concentration of social attention, remains evident. Interaction is more intense and cohesive in smaller enclaves than in larger ones. Consensus in group discussions is easier to reach and leaders exert more extensive influence, even though the members of small enclaves have a sense of self-importance and coalitions are less common (Hare, 1953~. Given that children remain committed to dyadic interactions throughout middle childhood, it is to be regretted that we do not know whether the nature of these exchanges varies according to the size of the groups in which they are embedded. Problems Every social situation contains some element of challenge, something to be done, something to activate or energize the actors. Multiple challenges exist in most social situations, and these may form a hierarchy according to their relative importance. Different challenges may be important at different times. In some instances the main tasks are externally imposed and evident to everyone; in others the tasks are not well defined, and the participants must construct the task as they go along. Only recently has there been much
256 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD interest in tasks and their role in child-child relationships. Illustrations can be selected, however, that demonstrate (a) the effects of a task on social interaction, (b) changes that occur with age in the tasks children consider important, and (c) individual differences in the tactics children use in certain . . sltuatlons. The strategic demands of a social situation vary according to context. Children usually understand, for example, that when a child is being teased by a number of children the most appropriate way to assist the victim is through ordering and commanding the teasers (Ladd and Oden, 1979~. When encountering a solitary child who has been teased, however, appro- priate assistance is understood to include consolation, instruction, and sug- gestions of alternative actions. Children who do not endorse these strategic norms but instead endorse idiosyncratic social strategies turn out to be rel- atively low in the sociometric hierarchy. Thus, a child's endorsement of normative strategies in certain task situations seems to be central in social effectiveness. When social situations are not well structured, children construct their own goals, and to some extent these change between ages 6 and 12. Renshaw and Asher (1983) showed third- and sixth-grade children four hypothetical social situations (social contact with strange children, group entry, a friend- ship issue, and an instance of conflict) and conducted interviews about the goals and strategies the children considered important. Both the third and the sixth graders recognized "friendly" goals as most appropriate in each of these social situations, but, when asked to mention their own goals, the older children mentioned friendly ones more often and the younger children were more often concerned with defending their rights. Endorsed social strategies also differed according to age. The older children, in contrast to the younger ones, more often were outgoing and accommodative, indicating more sophisticated adjustment to the social task. One task that has received considerable recent attention is group entry. Results indicate that children vary in the extent to which they view entry as important as well as in the tactics they use to enter a group (Dodge et al., 1983; PutalIaz and Gottman, 1981~. As it turns out, successful entry usually involves sequences of tactics that progress from the use of low-risk ones (e.g., waiting and hovering on the edges of a group) to high-risk ones (e.g., statements and requests). Moreover, the child must then use high- risk tactics that maintain the group's frame of reference (e.g., calling at- tention to what the group is doing) rather than disrupting it (e.g., calling attention to oneself). The effectiveness of these strategies has been dem- onstrated among children interacting with familiar associates as well as unfamiliar ones and in naturalistic as well as laboratory settings. Some evidence suggests that the high-risk tactics that work are more consistently
PEER CONTEXT 257 used by children toward the end of middle childhood than at the beginning (Lubin and Forbes, 1981~. Furthermore, their use differentiates popular, neglected, and rejected children (Dodge et al., 1983; PutalIaz and Gottman, 1981). There is every reason to believe, then, that tasks interact with devel- opmental and clinical status in determining the social strategies that children use with their associates. Even a child's understanding of what the social task is may index relevant individual differences in social functioning. Clearly, additional work in this important new area should be encouraged. Actors Age Children's associates vary widely in age, with as much as 65 percent of social contacts occurring with others who are more than 12 months younger or older (Barker and Wright, 1955~. Mixed-age contacts among adolescents occur more commonly in shopping malls and parks than in schoolyards (Montemayor and Van Komen, 19801. Similar data are not available, how- ever, to show where mixed-age experiences are especially common among school-age children. Nevertheless, two conclusions emerge from recent stud- ies of mixed-age interactions compared with same-age interactions: mixed- age interactions are less egalitarian than same-age interactions, and social accommodations are made in mixed-age circumstances that are not evident under same-age conditions. Children are more nurturant and directive with younger children and more dependent with older children (Graziano et al., 1976; Whiting and Whiting, 1975~; similar role asymmetries are evident between siblings who differ in age by 2-3 years (Brody et al., 1982~. Same-age interaction, in contrast, is marked by "sociable" and "aggressive" interactions (i.e., equal exchanges) to a greater extent than mixed-age interactions (Whiting and Whiting, 1975~. These differences are concordant with differences in at- tributions made to same- and mixed-age associates. Power attributions are more commonly made to older associates ("smart," "best," "bossy") and their reciprocals to younger associates ("weak," "dumbly. In these compar- isons, attributions to same-age associates are more likely to resemble those made to younger associates than to older ones (Graziano et al., 1980~. Three omissions, however, mark our data base. First, the differences between mixed and same-age interactions that emerge in early childhood and extend to the early school years have not been explored among older schoolchildren. The developmental course of the complementarities existing in mixed-age interactions is thus not well documented. Second, little is
258 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD known about these complementarities as a function of the age differences of children. Most investigators have examined mixed-age interactions be- tween children who differ by two years in chronological age. One-year differences seem to affect children's efficacies as role models (Thelen and Kirkland, 1976), but little else is known about these smaller differences. No investigator has examined the complementarities that may exist across greater differences in age. Third, little is known about the role of attributions in generating the differences between mixed- and same-age interaction in var- ious setting conditions. The existing data derive mainly from observational studies in cooperative atmospheres. Sex Children's societies are segregated by sex. Within these male and female cultures, boys interact in outdoor public places more commonly than girls do and come under the supervision of adults less frequently. Boys interact in larger groups than do girls, and mixed-age contacts are more frequent in male interactions. Play among boys is rougher and includes more frequent instances of fighting than play among girls (Lever, 1976; Thome, 19821. In addition, social speech seems to serve different functions in male and female societies. GirIs use speech more extensively than boys to create and maintain relationships, to criticize others in acceptable ways, and to clarify the speech of others. Boys use words to assert social position, to attract and maintain an audience, and to assert themselves when other speakers have the attention of the audience (Maltz and Barker, in press). Mixed- and same-sex interactions have seldom been compared. Sgan and Pickert (1980) examined assertive bids in a cooperative task with triads of kindergarten, first-grade, and third-grade children. With age, boys made proportionally fewer cross-sex assertive bids in mixed-sex triads and girls made more; concomitantly, same~sex assertions increased among girls but decreased among boys. These trends result in mixed-sex interactions be- coming more egalitarian with age, but whether these trends are evident in competitive or individualistic tasks is not known. Coalition formation differs according to gender composition, with same-sex coalitions formed more frequently in mixed-sex triads than cross-sex coalitions, especially when children of the same sex occupy positions of relatively low social power (Leimbach and Hartup, 19811. Gender and power relationships thus may interact in the emergence of cross-sex social organizations. Developmental trends in these outcomes have not been charted. Despite the sex cleavage in middle childhood, sex segregation is not complete. Rather, this segregation seems to have a "with-then-apart" struc
PEER CONTEXT 259 tore in which the sexes congregate separately but also come together in many situations, especially schoolyards and city streets. Using the techniques of participant observation in school hallways, cafeterias, and playgrounds, Thorne (1982) established, first, that sex segregation derives from both inclusion and exclusion and, second, that cross-sex exclusions are based mainly on sex typing and the "riskiness" of romantic involvement. Even so, "borderwork" (i.e., ritualized "invasions" resulting in cross-sex interaction) are common. Some of these, for example, "chasing," and "kiss and chase," have sexual overtones. Others involve stigmatization (boys referring to the girls as cootie queens). Still others involve territorial invasions. But cross- sex interactions also occur, in which the children merge easily into inter- actions with the opposite sex. Common examples include the inclusion of girls in team sports, especially tomboys (see Lever, 1976~. As adolescence approaches, the taboo against romantic involvement begins to break down, and occasionally boys and girls will consider themselves as going together. And when tasks and resources are absorbing and adults legitimate cross-sex interactions, more harmonious cross-sex contacts occur. These observations indicate that much can be reamed from naturalistic investigations about the forces that support sex segregation in middle child- hood and, more important, the forces that instigate and maintain cross-sex interactions in these years. The developmental implications of cross-sex interactions are especially significant. Indeed, it may be their highly rit- ualized nature that represents their significance in development. Race Racial awareness increases in middle childhood, although the contem- porary evidence is not extensive concerning the foundations of the race cleavage that marks children's societies. Prowhite/antiblack biases are evi- dent among white children, but in many instances the choices of black children do not depart from chance (Banks, 1976~. "Eurocentric" prowhite/ antiblack choices decline among school-age black children (Spencer, 1981), although there is considerable variation in the existence of problack biases. Associative contacts are more likely to be of the same sex than of the same race (Asher et al., 1982), but assortments in cafeterias, playgrounds, and hallways are notably segregated by race. School integration has changed these patterns somewhat, although friendship interactions among adoles- cents are strongly constrained by race (see above). These segregations in child-child interactions are undoubtedly based on both inclusive and exclusive processes. The salience of racial similarities has seldom been explored as a basis for inclusion; in contrast, considerable
260 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD thought has been given to racial biases as sources of exclusion. The bor- derwork and other conditions that instigate mixed-race interactions are not well established except that cooperative activities in the service of superor- dinate goals seem to promote it (Aronson, 1978~. Microanalytic studies of mixed race interactions compared with same~race interactions are virtually nonexistent. Among younger adolescents in mixed-race conditions, white children are more likely to initiate social interaction than are black children, and white children have stronger influence on group decisions. No evidence establishes the precursors of these patterns in middle childhood or the con- ditions that might modify them. Comment Presumably many other "actor attributes" determine the nature of child- child interactions in middle childhood. The source of a leader's authority and his or her personal attributes determine social effectiveness among ad- olescents, but the emergence of these conditions in middle childhood is unstudied. The status of handicapped children in mainstreamed classrooms is generally not good, and observational studies are now being addressed to the attributions and attitudes that may be responsible (see Hartup, 19831. Overall, though, we know relatively little about the implicit personality theories of schoolchildren and scarcely more about these matters in early adolescents. Recent work indicates the significance of these implicit theories in interactions among adults, however, so concentrated work with children is urgently needed. , , PEER RELATIONSHIPS AND THE INDIVIDUAL CHILD Poor peer relationships in middle childhood are characteristic of children who are at risk for emotional and behavioral disturbances in adolescence and adulthood. Early childhood assessments are not strong predictors of social difficulties in middle childhood (Richman et al., 1982), but individual dif- ferences during the school years are correlated with subsequent adjustment. Negative reputations and social rejection among elementary school children, for example, are prognostic indicators of continuing rejection by schoolmates (Coie and Dodge, 1983) as well as poor mental health and psychosexual difficulties in adolescence and young adulthood (Cowen et al., 1973; Roff, 1963; Sundby and Kreyberg. 1968~. Prediction of schizophrenic breakdown from peer status in middle childhood has not been demonstrated since social withdrawal and isolation are themselves not stable through this time (Coie and Dodge, 1983~. Beginning in early adolescence, however, irritability,
PEER CONTEXT 261 aggressiveness, and negativistic behavior in peer interactions are character- istic of premorbid individuals (Watt and Lubensky, 1976~. Consistent as these results are, it is difficult to interpret them. Childhood indicators of later maladjustment include somatic disturbances, family dif- ficulties, and school failure as well as difficulties with contemporaries. Peer problems, then, may simply reflect general difficulties in development and not be direct determinants of emotional disturbance. Whatever the child- hood antecedents of behavior disorders, difficulties with contemporaries may contribute, on their own, to negative self-attitudes, alienation, and reduc- tions in social effectiveness. Poor peer relationships are among the most consistently reported "problems" in the referral of children to mental health clinics (Achenbach and Edelbrook, 1981~. Consequently, the connections between family and peer relationships across time, as these involve self- and other attributions, social isolation, and social competence, need to be ex- amined (following the example of one investigation, in which social isolation among 5-year-olds was found to be predictive of social cognitive difficulties a year later and which at that point were linked to peer rejection and withdrawal Rubin et al., in press). New documentation connecting peer adjustment in middle childhood to later negative outcomes is not needed. Rather, the studies needed should be multidimensional examinations over time of social development and life events culminating in undesirable out comes. Similar comments can be made about peer relationships and crime. In middle childhood, "delinquents to be" have difficulties getting along with others and in treating others courteously, tactfully, and fairly. These children are also less well liked by their contemporaries (Conger and Miller, 1966; West and Farrington, 1973~. Concordantly, self-evaluations in early ado- lescence indicate that delinquents to be do not enjoy close personal rela- tionships with others, are less interested in organized activities, and are immature. Middle childhood, then, may be a time in which precursors of criminal behavior are established, including negative self-attitudes and alien- ation. Delinquency is not a well-differentiated construct, however. These notions deserve examination in carefully designed longitudinal studies. Studies centered on the processes of peer socialization have been con- ducted mainly with preschool children. The evidence indicates that mod- eling and reinforcing events are used in this context with increasing deliberation in middle childhood (Hartup, 19831. What children leam and how much they leam through these contingencies are difficult to specify and may remain so, although it is clear that peer interactions involve prosocial as well as aggressive experiences. Since more aggression occurs in child-child inter- actions than in other contexts, and since endorsement of antisocial norms
262 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD countenanced by other children increases in middle childhood (BemUt, 1979), fine-grained analyses should be extended to naturalistic situations. These studies are needed to specify the conditions associated with the emer- gence of individual differences in assertiveness and aggression. Children do not become uniformly more "conforming" in middle childhood (see Hartup, 1983), but other conditions encouraging the development of antisocial be- havior within the peer context may exist in these years for example, the combination of a negative reputation among one's peers and one's own disposition to attribute hostile intentions to others (Dodge and Frame, 19821. Sexual socialization in middle childhood is understudied, mainly because of the difficulty of conducting relevant studies. Early childhood studies make it clear that child-child interactions extend the sex typing of the individual; playground observations of schoolchildren support this thesis (see above). But sexual knowledge and experimentation also derive from contacts with other children (Kinsey et al., 1948~. The scarcity of information on this subject, however, is disturbing consider, for example, the need to deter- mine the circumstances contributing to sexual socialization as antecedents of adolescent pregnancy. Several investigators (see Thorne, 1982) have commented on the sexual character of children's play, especially in the robust, physical interactions of boys. Sexual concomitants in child-child interactions are common and explicit in conversations on the playground. It is difficult to discount the normative significance of these events or to ignore their possible contri- butions to sexual socialization. Close examination of sexuality in child-child interactions could illuminate many critical issues. Same-sex contacts in middle childhood, for example, may contribute both sexual knowledge and normative "stylistic" elements to the child's repertoire, e.g., braggadocio among boys. Opposite-sex encounters may constitute sexually neutralized introductions to the complementarities needed in heterosexual communi- cat~on. Moral relativism was believed by Piaget ~ 1932) to arise within child-child interactions in middle childhood. Recent studies demonstrate that children's conversations modify their moral judgments (BemUt et al., 1980), but it has been difficult to connect peer interaction in the natural context with the maturity of the child's moral orientation. Preadolescents who belong to clubs and social organizations receive higher scores on moral judgment than do those who belong to relatively few organizations (Keasey, 1971), but the correlational nature of this evidence reduces its significance. Children's conversations about moral issues need closer examination, and content anal- yses centered on moral interaction in natural settings should be encouraged. Whether the child's moral orientation is tied especially closely to peer in- teractions may not be the most relevant issue. More important, we need to
PEER CONTEXT 263 better understand those processes in child-child interactions that have moral implications. Along with knowing what children do when they are on their own, this information could contribute greatly to knowledge about the role of child-child relationships in moral socialization. FAMILY AND PEER RELATIONSHIPS Familial Correlates of Peer Competence In early childhood, secure attachments between a child and his or her caretakers promote exploration of the environment, including the other children who inhabit it. Mothers arrange contacts between their young children and other youngsters, believing this to be desirable. In addition, social interactions within the family promote individuation and the growth of self-esteem conditions that maximize the chances of success once peer interaction begins. Consistent with these notions are empirical studies show- ing secure attachments in the first 2 years to be antecedents of sociability, empathy, and effectiveness in child-child relationships at ages 3 and 4 (Waters et al., 1979~. The connections between family and peer relationships extending into middle childhood are not well documented. One would expect parent-child relationships marked by emotional support and appropriate demands for compliance to continue to be associated with positive outcomes in child- child relationships. And, indeed, cross-sectional studies reveal that mothers and fathers of well-liked children are emotionally supportive, infrequently frustrating and punitive, and discouraging of antisocial behavior in their children (Winder and Rau, 1962~. Other investigators (Hoffman, 1961) have observed the antecedents of self-confidence, assertiveness, and effectiveness with other children to in- clude (a) among boys, affection from both mothers and fathers accompanied by dominance from fathers but not mothers, and (b) among girls, affection from both parents accompanied by dominance from mothers but not fathers. In addition, sociometric status is known to be positively correlated with parental affection and the absence of family tension (Cox, 1966) as well as with parents' satisfaction with their children (Elkins, 1958~. No evidence suggests that the child-rearing correlates of social competence in middle childhood differ in any substantive way from their correlates in early child- hood, even though specific exchanges between parents and their children that can be called supportive or dominant undoubtedly change. Assuming that family and peer relationships are interactive in individual development, one would expect disturbance in one context (e.g., the family) to disturb the child in the other (e.g., child-child relationships). For ex
264 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD ample, unemployment, terminal illness within the family, and family conflict would be expected to affect the child's functioning with other children. Scattered evidence is consistent with this notion. GirIs ages 10-13 whose fathers were unemployed for a substantial time during the depression reported more strain in their relationships with age-mates, less self-confidence, and more concern about having friends than did girls from less deprived families (Elder, 19741. Time spent with peers and popularity, however, did not differ between girls in these two types of families. Perturbations traced to the father's unemployment were not evident among boys. The data suggest that the earlier maturing of the girls and their greater concern with grooming and attractiveness may underlie these findings. In addition, boys may have been buffered from the impact of their father's unemployment by their own . . . mcreasec wor ~ activities. Divorce and its impact on socialization in the peer context have not been examined extensively with children ages 6-12. Studies of younger children (e.g., Hetherington, 1979) indicate that age-mate relationships suffer ini- tially with the occurrence of divorce and that "recovery" coincides with stabilization of interpersonal relationships within the family. Young boys are more at risk for peer difficulties in the aftermath of divorce than young girls are the latter apparently receiving more frequent emotional support from their teachers and mothers. One interesting notion is that in middle childhood friends and other associates assist in the amelioration of the anxiety associated with divorce, in the resolution of loyalty conflicts, and in coping with the economic and practical exigencies deriving from the divorce. One investigation suggests these dynamics among boys but not girls (Wallerstein and Kelly, 1981~. In this instance, school-age boys were able to turn to friends, seemingly to put distance between themselves and the troubled household. Girls, however, entered into friendships only when their relationships with their mothers were supportive. Otherwise, girls felt it necessary to abstain from interacting extensively with other children and were constrained from entering friend- ships. This sex difference was not evident among preschool children nor among adolescents in this investigation. Thus, the peer concomitants of divorce in middle childhood need further examination. The extent to which children use their friends instead of or in addition to their families for emotional and social support in middle childhood is an interesting question, especially since those adaptations may be sex linked. Parents Versus Peers: The Issue of Cross Pressures The conventional wisdom stresses that the carryover from peer relation- ships to family relationships in middle childhood is mainly in the form of
PEER CONTEXT 265 increased opposition between children and their parents. According to this argument, exposure to age-mates erodes the child's orientation to the family and establishes normative opposition. The evidence, however, does not suggest that these oppositions are especially intense before puberty; the opposition revolves mainly around antisocial norms. From one investigation (Berndt, 1979) with children in grades 3, 6, 9, and 11, the most striking results were (a) small decreases in conformity on prosocial issues with both parents and friends, (b) a gradual decline in conformity with parents in neutral situations but little change in conformity to peers, and (c) an increase in peer conformity to antisocial norms between grades 3 and 9 but not beyond. Children thus continue to use their parents as well as their friends as anchors for prosocial activity, disengaging from their parents mainly as normative anchors in antisocial activity. Other investigators have observed that peer-endorsed standards of misconduct become increasingly salient from grade 3 to 6 and from grade 6 to 8 but not beyond (Bixenstine et al., 1976~. The major age changes occurring in response to cross-pressures thus involve antisocial norms; normative opposition increases as puberty approaches. Changes in the general attitudes of children toward parents and peers are similar: (a) attitudes toward both parents and peers are more favorable than unfavorable at all ages, (b) the number of children reporting positive attitudes toward parents declines somewhat during middle childhood and an increase occurs again in middle adolescence, and (c) there is no general increase in the favorability of attitudes toward peers (Harris and Tseng, 1957~. Other than a slight dip in the popularity of parents in preadolescence, there is thus no indication that parents are increasingly rejected nor peers increasingly accepted during middle childhood, although individual differences may be wide. By early adolescence, most individuals are able to synthesize their understandings and expectations of their parents and their peers. Taken together, the literature connecting family and peer relationships is narrowly focused. We know the dimensions in child-rearing that predict sociometric status in middle childhood but little about changes in the family as these may bring about changes in child-child relationships. We know that normative concordance and discordance change with age, but we know little about the conditions that bring about these changes. We know little about the strategies that parents use for knowing where their children are, arranging contacts with other children, and coaching them in social skills. What attention is given by parents to children's thinking about their com- panions? Do parents contribute to the child's increasingly differentiated and "psychological" perceptions of their associates' Are there similarities be- tween the theories of personality and attributional conventions used by parents with their children and those used by children with their associates? In what ways does intimacy within family relationships carry forward into
266 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD the close relationships emerging between children and their friends? These issues cannot be addressed without concurrent studies in both the family and the peer contexts. THE PEER CONTEXT AND THE SCHOOL Classrooms are social units of major significance in Western cultures. Teachers establish the climate in these contexts, setting the conditions for social interactions and relationships. Child-child relationships, however, may constitute the "social frontier" in the classroom (Minuchin and Shapiro, 1983~. In addition, child-child relationships within the classroom and the school are learning contexts; children teach things to one another, and these interactions contribute to children's growing understanding of the conditions uncler which people work and achieve. Classroom Conditions and Peer Interactions Numerous classroom conditions influence child~child interactions. The number of students, the physical arrangements, open versus traditional ciass- room structures, curriculum content, and teaching style are known to be correlated with variations in children's interactions with one another. Stud- ies of these setting conditions are not easy to design, however, owing to the common confounding of these conditions with one another. For example, friendships and cliques are more numerous in large classes than in smaller ones (Hallinan, 1976) and group activity is more frequent. And these effects depend on the extent to which teachers organize small classes differently from larger ones (Smith and Glass, 1979~. Social interactions in open and traditional classrooms are not the same. Child-child contacts are more numerous in open classrooms, involving both work-oriented and social matters (Minuchin, 1976), and cross-sex and cross age contacts are more frequent. Cooperative interactions are more common in open classrooms, since cooperative work opportunities are scheduled more often than in traditional settings. Cooperation in out-of-class situations, however, is also more common among children enrolled in open than in traditional classrooms. The induction of generalized cooperative expecta- tions may thus be one outcome of experience in these situations. Never- theless, the extent to which children create a cooperative ethic on their own in open classrooms is not known. Open classrooms provide a basis for friendship selection that differs from conditions in traditional classrooms. Hallinan (1976) found relatively rigid sociometric hierarchies in traditional classrooms along with clear-cut consensus concerning the identities of pop
PEER CONTEXT 267 ular and isolated children. More diffuse social organizations were observed in open classrooms, with unreciprocated choices occurring less commonly and persisting over a shorter time than in traditional settings. Other inves- tigators (Epstein, 1983) report that more students are selected and fewer are neglected as best friends in open than in traditional situations, with so- ciometric choices that are more commonly reciprocal. Open settings thus seem to encourage the continuing reorganization of close relationships to a greater extent than traditional settings do. Curriculum Content Curricular interventions centered on socialization consist of four main types: moral education, affective education, cooperative reaming, and social skills training. Moral education has been studied in numerous variations ranging from the use of lessons that emphasize appropriate moral attitudes and behavior to the creation of "moral schools." Sometimes moral education consists of discussions about moral principles among the children themselves; other times it consists of the incorporation of moral issues into the curriculum in social studies or literature courses. Lockwood (1978) considered many of these studies to be poorly executed, although well-designed investigations demonstrate that (a) the direct discussion of moral dilemmas results in small advances in the maturity of moral reasoning among children; (b) these advances are more common among younger children than older ones, al- though individual differences are considerable; and (c) questions remain about the persistence of these advances and their manifestations in behavior. There has been little systematic evaluation of"moral schools" and virtually no effort to document the effects of moral education on child-child inter- actions. Many unresolved issues remain in evaluating moral education, in- cluding the effects of these interventions on children's interactions with one another. Moreover, these issues have been recognized for some time. It is nevertheless curious why we know so little about the effects of moral edu- cation on children's relationships with one another. Mode! programs of affective education have been used with elementary school children, including the Human Development Program (Bessel! and Palomares, 1970), the Affective Education Program (Newberg, 1980), and the Empathy Training Project (Feshbach, 19791. These and other models emphasize group dynamics, social values, and personal adjustment. Affective education has spread widely through U.S. schools, although definitive eval- uation of the impact of these programs on child-child relationships is scarce. Again, Lockwood (1978) evaluated the evidence as showing positive effects on classroom behavior but inconsistent effects on self-esteem, self-concept,
268 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD personal adjustment, and social values. The Empathy Training Project dem- onstrated decreases in rated aggression among children in the program and cognitive gains among those children showing the greatest gains in prosocial behavior and the greatest decreases in aggression. Further work with this program is needed, since its effects in nonexperimental settings have not been documented. Cooperative learning environments promote friendly conversation, shar- ing, and helping among children, with the reverse being the case in com- petitive settings (StendIer et al., 1 95 1 ). Peer tutoring occurs more frequently under cooperative than competitive conditions (DeVries and Edwards, 1972), and altruism occurs more frequently following cooperative than competitive experience (Johnson et al., 1976~. In addition, attitudes toward oneself and one's coworkers are more positive as a consequence of cooperative rather than competitive experience. Cooperative classrooms are also more cohesive social units than competitive ones. Cohesiveness in racially integrated cIass- rooms is evident when cooperative experiences prevail, although it is nec- essary for the contributions of minority children to be recognized as essential to class success in cooperative tasks in order for this to occur (Aronson, 1978~. Social skills training has been used with schoolchildren mainly in an effort to improve the status of isolated and withdrawn children. Numerous inter- ventions have been tried, most based on the hypothesis that such children have difficulties in peer relationships because of their inadequate social skills, e.g., communication skills. Some of these interventions have been based on modeling; others have involved "unprogrammed" opportunities for with- drawn'children to interact with better skilled companions. Coaching, which is an intervention that combines direct instruction, opportunities for re- hearsal, and corrective feedback, has been used extensively. The efficacy of modeling and unprogrammed socialization strategies has been demonstrated most thoroughly with preschool children. One investi- gation revealed that modeling techniques are effective in improving the social status of third- and fourth-grade children (Gresham and Nagle, 1980~. Coaching studies have been variable in their outcomes (Combs and Slaby, 1977; Conger and Keane, 1981), but these techniques do seem to be effective in improving the sociometric status of isolated children and in some cases increase the frequency of the child's social contacts. Long-term maintenance of these outcomes has been assessed (Oden and Asher, 1977), although effects outside the school are unknown and effects on measures other than sociometric tests and classroom observations are not well documented. More serious, however, is the scarcity of developmental studies in this area. We know that training in social skills can be effective, but the extent to which
PEER CONTEXT 269 outcomes are generalized outside the classroom and the extent to which developmental modifications need to be made in the interventions them- seIves remain to be evaluated. Children as Teachers Believed to benefit both tutor and tutee, peer tutoring has been viewed as a cost-effective instructional supplement in classrooms and as a basic element of socialization in certain cultures e.g., the USSR. Empirical studies have mostly concerned the outcomes of the tutoring experiences- either for the child doing the teaching or for the child being taught. Benefits to the tutor are believed to include increases in motivation and task in- volvement that lead to gains in school achievement. Enhancement of self- esteem, prosocial behavior, and attitudes toward school are also cited as tutor benefits. The evidence is not entirely consistent in relation to these outcomes, and there is no obvious reason for the inconsistencies (Hartup, 19831. Tutee benefits are more clear-cut. The training of tutors must be carefully accomplished to maximize tutee outcomes, and maintenance re- gimes must be closely monitored (see Allen, 1976~. Nevertheless, children clearly can teach one another a variety of subjects. Very little effort has been made to determine the techniques that children use to teach one another. We know that children prefer to teach younger children and, conversely, to be taught by older children. Same-sex tutors and nonevaluative instructional conditions are also preferred (Lohman, 1969~. Little is known about the strategies that children use in teaching one another or how strategies vary according to setting. The weight of the evidence suggests that peer teaching resembles adult pedagogics. Cooper et al. (1982) observed that issuing directives, describing the task, and making evaluative comments were the techniques most commonly used in classrooms; dem- onstration, labeling, pointing, questioning, praise, and criticism were com- mon, too. Kindergarten children were more directive and intrusive than were second graders (especially when the children were asked to assumed a tutor role), but, since these observations were conducted in same-age sit- uations, it is not clear whether the age differences were a function of the developmental status of the tutors, the tutees, or a combination of the two. As it turns out, school-age children make a variety of instructional ac- commodations to the age of their tutees. Children instructing younger chil- dren use repetitions, strategic advice, progress checkups, direct assistance, and praise more frequently than children who instruct same-age tutees (Lu- deke and Hartup, 19831. Children seem to possess "implicit theories" of teaching that assume younger children to require more cognitive structuring
270 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD and more supportive and corrective feedback than same-age children. These theories have been studied only in relation to the actions of older children with younger associates, not vice versa; nothing is known about "upward" accommodations. Again, information is not available concerning these ac- commodations in relation to the magnitude of the age difference between children. Tutoring strategies are more elaborate when the difference between tutor and tutee is 4 years rather than 2 years, but nothing else is known. Peer and Teacher Norms Some investigators (Coleman, 1961 ~ have regarded cross-pressures be- tween peer and teacher norms as major sources of tension and dysfunction in schools. Certain evidence is consistent with this notion. Peer standards of misconduct are more readily endorsed by children when these endorse- ments will be secret than when they will be revealed to parents and teachers (Devereux, 19701. It is also clear that friends are sources of significant variance in the use of leisure time and decisions about whether to smoke or use drugs. But the issue is more complex. Surveys and questionnaires do not reveal that either middle childhood or adolescence is a stormy period of normative dissonance. The notion that adult-child relationships are under- stood by children to require self-control while peer relationships are based on self-indulgence and unbridled instinctual activity is not substantiated (Emmerich et al., 197 1 ). A small number of studies tell us about the tacit rules that children use to govern their behavior in the classroom and their notions about the manner in which classrooms work. These studies are largely normative and not addressed to the manner in which children acquire these rules. Nucci and Turiel (1978) observed social transgressions in nursery schools, interviewing the children about these incidents. Their distinctions between conventional transgressions (e.g., playing in the wrong place) and moral transgressions (e.g., taking something that belongs to someone else) agreed most of the time with the distinctions made by adults. Second, fifth, and seventh graders also make these distinctions (Nucci and Nucci, 1979), reacting to conven- tional transgressions with comments about the rules and to moral transgres- sions with arguments about the intrinsic implications of these events. Moreover, school rules are seen by children according to these same distinctions; for example, rules about harming others are distinguished from conventions about dress. Most children believed that rules about doing harm are nec essary. Teachers do not always react consistently to conventional and moral transgressions; conventional transgressions are sometimes treated as moral issues and vice versa (Nucci, 1979~. The extent of these incongruities and
- - PEER CONTEXT 271 their effects on children (especially their effects on the teacher's credibility) are unknown. And, more broadly, we know little about the effects of different patterns of school authority and organization on children's understanding of social rules and the internalization of responsibility norms. Missing, too, is information about the child's distinctions between parent- endorsed norms and teacher-endorsed norms. Most of our attention has been given to the differentiation occurring in middle childhood between adult- endorsed (i.e., parents and teachers combined) and peer-endorsed norms. Nevertheless, parents are not teachers. Compliance demands, conduct ex- pectations, and the contingencies involved in the expression of affection and support differ in families and classrooms. Consequently, a differentiated examination of children's reactions to adult authorities needs to be under- taken in order to understand the connections between the family and the peer system, on one hand, and between the peer system and the school, on the other. Investigations focused explicitly on concordance and discordance between teacher-child and parent-child interactions are essential. METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES Socialization in the peer context confronts the investigator with numerous difficulties in data gathering. Neither as open to surveillance as preschool children nor as articulate as adolescents, school-age children are elusive quarry. Trained observers are an alien presence in the peer context; children bar them from access to activities with their companions, and observers respect the child's rights to privacy. Moreover, the intrusion of observers into the peer context unquestionably alters the events that occur there. Nevertheless, one can argue that we have not been as creative as we might be in examining child-child relationships outside the school. First, more effective use can be made of those individuals whom we select as informants. Children themselves can be involved in many ways other than to complete Guess Who tests, sociometric nominations, checklists, and ques- tionnaires. Recent studies (Youniss, 1980) suggest that the child interview has been underused as a means of gathering data on a variety of timely and theoretically relevant issues; children between ages 6 and 12 can be articulate about many issues. The nuances of sexual socialization may never be revealed in response to questioning by adult examiners, but the structure of the child's theories of interpersonal relationships might be. Children can be used as observers of their own actions and the actions of their companions. One cannot expect children to carry clipboards and stopwatches to their hideouts or their playgrounds, but child observations can be accumulated in other ways. For example, the telephone can be used to obtain information about recent events, the circumstances under which
272 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD the events occurred, their content, and their outcomes. One would expect these observations not to be as "clean" as those of trained observers, but no one knows the exact strengths and weaknesses of this strategy. Telemetric techniques can be used, too both to gather time-use information and to gather information about the attributions and affects experienced in social interactions. To be sure, these technologies do not solve the issues of access and privacy that were mentioned, but their use would extend the range of settings in which we work, thereby justifying an increased effort to use them. Parents are underused observers of child-child relationships. Restricted to the events that they can observe and to what their children tell them, parents nevertheless accumulate a considerable fund of information about the activities of their children and their companions. Diary records, an ancient and underused technique, are once again being utilized in studies of social development (see Radke-Yarrow et al., 1983~. Electronic modes of data collection can supplement the written record in these efforts. Also, interviews should not be written off as data-gathering devices. What about the scientist as observer or experimenter? Participant obser- vation may be feasible in studying informal groups of adolescents, especially if the observer is sufficiently youthful (see Sherif and Sherif, 1964~. No 20- year-old graduate student, however, can pass as a 10-year-old. Only more creative (and ethical) uses of "lurking" can be encouraged. New work suggests that we have not exhausted the possibilities (see, for example, Thome's 1982 ethnographic observations centered on cross-sex borderwork occurring in playgrounds, hallways, and school cafeterias). Shopping malls and other sites have been used for observations of adolescents. Why not use similar observational settings to capture certain aspects of peer interaction among school-age children? These strategies are labor-intensive, but there is little choice. "Quick-test" classroom assessments must give way to more complex and time-consuming assessments of child-child interactions outside the cIass room. A recurrent theme throughout this chapter is the need for developmental studies, either through cross-sectional or longitudinal analysis. Unfortu- nately, more is involved in this effort than the assessment of children at different ages or tracking the necessary cohorts over time. The construction of age-appropriate measures is a continuing need and a complicated business. Sufficient attention is almost never given to psychometric issues and the appropriateness of research designs for conducting developmental work in this area (see Fischer and Bullock, in this volume). Investigators cannot avoid these issues, however, any more than they can avoid the other com- plexities inherent in developmental research.
PEER CONTEXT 273 CONCLUSION Middle childhood is a time of consolidation and extension of peer rela- tionships rather than a time of beginnings. Children make their initial contacts with other children in early childhood; commerce with them, however, increases dramatically between ages 6 and 12. Younger children understand certain things about the intentions and motives of other children, but these are elaborated and usecI with increasing effectiveness in middle childhood. Similarly, communication and the coordination necessary for engaging in cooperation and competition are establishecl in the preschool years, but new integrations emerge among schoolchildren. Within the peer context, new content te.g., sex, enters into chilcI-chilc] interactions, but these issues are integrated into normative structures whose precursors trace back to early childhood. Preschool children possess nascent notions about friendships and their implications, whereas the capacities for engaging in intimate interactions seem to emerge between 6 and 12. Younger children interact distinctively with adults as contrasted with age-mates, but more elaborate differentiations emerge in middle childhood within the social net- works of the family, the peer context, and the school. Parent-child inter- actions change to some extent as children increase their activities with other children. Certain normative oppositions arise between parents and their children; issues connected with supervision and compliance change. But parents and children work out accommodations to these differences without changing the basic nature of their relationships and usually without detach- ment from one another. Middle childhood is a distinctive time. The years between 6,and 12 present new and insistent demands for working out accommodations with other children i.e., individuals who are similar to the child in cognitive capac- ities, knowledge, and social experience. Children must construct arrange- ments for working and playing with similar individuals govemed by rules that differ, in many ways, from the ruses that govern their exchanges with dissimilar individuals. Children must construct interactions with others on an equal basis and sustain them across situations and across time. No theme, issue, or comer to be fumed may thus be evident in child-child relationships during middle childhood, but children must construct a wider and more varied range of accommodations that "work" with age-mates. In short, com- ing to terms with the peer context is itself a major challenge in the years between 6 and 12.
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PEER CONTEXT 279 Medrich, E.A., Rosen, I., Rubin, V., and Buckley, S. 1982 The Serious Business of Growing Up. Berkeley: University of California Press. Minuchin, P. 1976 Differential Use of the Open Classroom: A Study of Explanatory and Cautious Children. Final Report, National Institute of Education. Minuchin, P.P., and Shapiro, E.K. 1983 The school as a context for social development. In P. PI. Mussen, ea., Handbook of Child Psychology. Vol. 4, E.M. Hetherington (Vol. ed.), Socialization, Personality, and Social Development. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Montemayor, R., and Van Komen, R. 1980 Age segregation of adolescents in and out of school. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 9:371-381. Newberg, N. 1980 Affective Education Addresses the Basics. Paper presented at the meetings of the Amen ican Education Research Association, Boston. Newcomb, A.F., and Brady, J.E. 1982 Mutuality in boy's friendship relations. Child Development 53:392-395. Newcomb, A.F., Brady, J.E., and Hartup, W.W. 1979 Friendship and incentive condition as determinants of children's task-oriented social behavior. Child Development 50:878-881. Newcomb, A.F., Junenemann, A., and Meister, N. 1982 Acquaintanceship Formation Among Popular and Rejected Children. Unpublished manuscript, Michigan State University. Newcomb, A.F., and Meister, N. 1982 Acquaintanceship Processes as a Function of Sociometric Status in School-Age Children. Unpublished manuscript, Michigan State University. Newcomb, A.F., and Rogosch, F. 1982 The Influence of Social Reputation on the Social Relations of Rejected and Isolated Children. Unpublished manuscript, Michigan State University. Nucci, L. 1979 Conceptual Development in the Moral and Social-Conventional Domains: Implications for Social Education. Paper presented at the meetings of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco. Nucci, L., and Nucci, M.S. 1979 Social Interactions and the Development of Moral and Societal Concepts. Paper pre- sented at the meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, San Francisco. Nucci, L.P., and Turiel, E. 1979 Social interactions and the development of social concepts in preschool children. Child Development 49:400-407. Oden, S., and Asher, S.R. 1977 Coaching children in social skills for friendship making. Child Development 48:494-506. Parke, R.D., and Slaby, R.G. 1983 The development of aggression. In P.H. Mussen, ea., Handbook of Child Psychology. Vol. 4, E.M. Hetherington (Vol. ed.), Socialization, Personality, and Social Development. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Piaget, ]. 1932 The Moral J7 - vent of the Child. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press. Putallaz, M., and Gottman, J.M. 1981 An interactional model of children's entry into peer groups. Child Development 52:986- 994.
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282 DEVELOPMENT DURING MIDDLE CHILDHOOD Youniss, I. 1980 Parents and Peers in Social Development: A Sullivan-Piaget Perspective. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Zajonc, R.B. 1968 Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Monographs 9(2, Pt. 2), 1-27. /