The Stability of Peer Acceptance and Its Behavioral Correlates in Early Childhood Development
A recent study has shown that peer acceptance is a predictor of social competence in children (Lyons & Christakis, 2008). Furthermore, the stability of social relationships and the constancy of social status classification have also been found to be important factors in predicting social competence (see e.g., Hartup, Laursen, Meyer & Cooper, 1998; Rubin, Bukowski & Parker, 2006). In this study, we aim to investigate the stability of peer acceptance and the behavioral correlates of peer acceptance in early childhood. We conducted our study with preschool-aged children in Queensland, Australia.
The sample consisted of 84 children aged 3-5 years old who were attending two different preschools in Queensland, Australia. The children were observed during free play and recess over a period of 6 months. Observations were made on the following variables: dyadic interactions (i.e., positive and negative interactions), sociometric status (i.e., liked, disliked, or rejected by peers), and problem behaviors (i.e., aggression, withdrawn behavior, and prosocial behavior).
The results showed that peer acceptance was stable over a period of 6 months. In addition, the researcher found that liked children had more positive interactions and less negative interactions than disliked or rejected children. Furthermore, liked children also engaged in more prosocial behavior than disliked or rejected children. Finally, the researcher found that problem behaviors did not predict peer status.
The results of this study suggest that peer acceptance is a stable feature of early childhood development and that it is associated with positive social interactions and prosocial behavior. These findings are consistent with previous research on peer relationships in early childhood (see e.g., Hartup et al., 1998; Rubin et al., 2006). The present study extends this research by demonstrating the stability of peer acceptance over a six-month period and by investigating the behavioral correlates of peer acceptance.
In conclusion, the findings of this study suggest that peer acceptance is a stable predictor of social competence in early childhood development.