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Sex differences in the structure and stability of children's playground social networks and their overlap with friendship relations.

Baines, E; Blatchford, P; (2009) Sex differences in the structure and stability of children's playground social networks and their overlap with friendship relations. Br J Dev Psychol , 27 (Pt 3) pp. 743-760.

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Abstract

Gender segregated peer networks during middle childhood have been highlighted as important for explaining later sex differences in behaviour, yet few studies have examined the structural composition of these networks and their implications. This short-term longitudinal study of 119 children (7-8 years) examined the size and internal structure of boys' and girls' social networks, their overlap with friendship relations, and their stability over time. Data collection at the start and end of the year involved systematic playground observations of pupils' play networks during team and non-team activities and measures of friendship from peer nomination interviews. Social networks were identified by aggregating play network data at each time point. Findings showed that the size of boy's play networks on the playground, but not their social networks, varied according to activity type. Social network cores consisted mainly of friends. Girl's social networks were more likely to be composed of friends and boys' networks contained friends and non-friends. Girls had more friends outside of the social network than boys. Stability of social network membership and internal network relations were higher for boys than girls. These patterns have implications for the nature of social experiences within these network contexts.

Type: Article
Title: Sex differences in the structure and stability of children's playground social networks and their overlap with friendship relations.
Location: England
Keywords: Child, Female, Friends, Gender Identity, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Models, Psychological, Peer Group, Personality Assessment, Play and Playthings, Social Behavior, Social Identification, Social Support, Sociometric Techniques
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1491332
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