Winning friends and influencing peers: Strategies of peer influence in late childhood

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We divided children (N = 719, grades 3-6) into five control types based on the degree to which they reported employing prosocial (indirect, cooperative) and coercive (direct, hostile) strategies of control (prosocial controllers, coercive controllers, bistrategic controllers, noncontrollers, and typicals). We tested for differences across the five types on personal characteristics, friendship motivations, wellbeing, and social integration, expecting specific patterns according to whether control is wielded, and whether coercive or prosocial behaviour (or both) is employed. Prosocial controllers revealed positive characteristics (e.g., social skills, agreeableness), intrinsic friendship motivations, and positive wellbeing. In contrast, coercive controllers revealed negative characteristics (e.g., hostility), extrinsic friendship motivations, and ill-being. Bistrategic controllers, as expected, reported the highest control, and revealed characteristics associated with both prosocial and coercive orientations. Noncontrollers, in contrast, did not report having these characteristics and felt the least effective in the peer group. Our evolutionary perspective offers unique predictions of how prosocial and coercive children are similar in terms of their instrumental goals and the consequences of using both strategies or neither.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-474
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2002


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