Peer nomination patterns and social identification in the context of children's cliques and friendship groups in middle childhood
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The overarching goal of the dissertation research was to examine the impact of the peer group context on children’s peer-related perceptions and behaviors. The first study examined the impact of children’s clique membership on peer nomination patterns. Children were found to nominate their cliquemates more often for positive characteristics and high social status indicators than for negative characteristics and low social status indicators. Gender and grade level effects were also examined. The study results implicate the social network as an important factor to consider for understanding the source of children’s social reputation and status. The second study examined the social identification process as a possible mechanism explaining peer group influence in the domains of academic behavior, adherence to trends, and misbehavior. Overall, children (1) reported greater intent to change their behaviors and conform to friendship group norms and (2) perceived greater similarity between themselves and their friendship group members, when they strongly identified with their friendship group. The dissertation concludes with a summary of findings and suggestions for future directions.