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Title:Interpersonal Peer Attraction in Childhood
Author(s):Dor, Amira Kimmel
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Developmental
Abstract:Research on the correlates of peer attraction and rejection in the elementary school is an important source of basic information about the social world and social-cognitive development of school children. Knowledge about the characteristics that children find attractive or unattractive is needed by both researchers and educators who seek to promote social acceptance among school children.
Previous research has typically explored the characteristics of popular and unpopular children but has not isolated and examined the relative attractiveness of each characteristic. The purpose of the present study was to assess and measure the attractiveness of specific peer characteristics for elementary school children. Also, the study explored and tested hypotheses about possible developmental and sex differences in children's views about the attractiveness of certain attributes. The study's experimental methodology offered a way of isolating and controlling specific factors that have been confounded in field studies.
In the present study, twelve specific attributes associated with attraction were employed. Using a version of the simulated stranger technique, the attributes were presented as verbal descriptions of hypothetical peers. One hundred twenty third- and fifth-grade children were asked to indicate their attraction toward imaginary peers described in terms of the various attributes. Both rating scale and paired comparison methods of assessment were used. Eighty of the children rated how much they would like to play, work, and be friends with the imaginary peer. The remaining children made forced choices between pairs of imaginary peers in play, work, and friend situations. The two sets of data were analyzed with respect to grade, sex, and situation variables. An analysis of variance was applied to the rating scale data, and the paired comparison data were scaled, following techniques for forming attitude scales.
The results demonstrated that children's style of interpersonal behavior was generally the most important basis for peer acceptance and rejection. Friendly and moral behaviors were viewed as the most desirable characteristics in playmates and friends by all children. Older children viewed academic excellence as the most attractive feature in workmates. Good performance in sports and academics was generally quite attractive, although less attractive than friendly and moral behaviors. Poor sports and academic skills were quite disliked but not as strongly as aggressive and deviant behaviors. All children expressed more extreme dislike for physical aggression than for verbal aggression or for non-aggressive but deviant behavior. Passive and shy behavior was seen as moderately attractive and occupied a neutral position on the attraction scale. Physical attractiveness was significantly more liked than physical unattractiveness, but in comparison to other attributes its importance was considerably reduced.
Younger and older children manifested a general consensus in their values and the developmental hypotheses were not firmly supported. However, there was a trend indicating that older children show more interest in academic performance whereas younger children show more interest in sports activities. Girls and boys gave very similar attraction judgments, including those concerning the attractiveness of physical appearance. Certain minor findings suggested that boys were more accepting of negative characteristics in peers and that girls were somewhat more situation-oriented in their judgments.
These findings and others were discussed in light of previous literature and the predictions made in the present study. Possible educational implications and future research were suggested.
Issue Date:1980
Description:159 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8108493
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-12
Date Deposited:1980

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