Examining the influence strategies of popular elementary-aged school children in the broad social network and at the clique level
Dwyer, Lucia Caryn
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The primary emphasis of this dissertation was to determine whether high-status students were identified as leaders in the broad social network and to examine the types of strategies high-status children used to exert influence over peers. This study also investigated high-status cliques and examined whether clique mates utilized the same types of influence strategies as high-status peers. Interdisciplinary research has focused on 2 moderately correlated but distinct types of popularity: sociometric popularity and perceived popularity (Parkhurst & Hopmeyer, 1998). The study was conducted using data from a sample of 857 fourth through fifth grade students attending five elementary schools in the southeastern United States. The current findings revealed that high-status students were identified as leaders and that children nominated as both perceived and sociometrically popular had the highest mean scores on the prosocial influence strategies, whereas perceived popular children were nominated by more peers for employing coercive influence strategies. High-status cliques have the most power to influence members with their cliques and the results suggested that the students within the high-status cliques were similar to their high-status peers in terms of influence strategy use or that they became more similar in behavior through the peer influence from their high-status peers (Kandel, 1978; Kindermann, 1996). Because of the dramatic increase in bullying within our schools via the Internet and via social networking, implementation of bullying prevention programs should make use of this type of information about peer dynamics.