The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between indexes of children’s social functioning in their peer group, i.e. acceptance, aggression and withdrawal, and their adjustment to reciprocal and long-term friendships. To this end, the study examined the friendships of children with different social functioning profiles in their peer group, and their social goals in the task of conflict resolution in their friendships. It was assumed that: a) the heterogeneity of children’s behavior would appear across the range of peer acceptance, b) adjustment to friendship would differ not only between subgroups in every acceptance group, but also between subgroups across the range of peer acceptance, c) the evaluation of social goals would differ not only between subgroups in every acceptance group, but also between subgroups across the range of peer acceptance, d) the two sexes would differ with regard to their friendship adjustment and their social goals, e) children’s perceptions of friendship quality would relate to their evaluation of social goals in the task of conflict resolution in their friendships, f) from all the social functioning indexes investigated, it would be peer acceptance and conflict in friendship that primarily affect the evaluation of social goals. The sample consisted of 603 fifth- and sixth-grade pupils, from ten state elementary schools. Variables were examined through: a) a questionnaire on the quality and duration of friendship and pupils’ satisfaction with it, b) a social goals questionnaire, c) a “roster-and-rating scale” measurement of children’s peer acceptance, aggression and withdrawal, d) a sociometric nomination procedure for friendship assessment. In summary, the findings indicated that only low-accepted children who are also aggressive maintain more conflicted relationships, evaluate more positively all negative social goals, and evaluate less positively the overall non-negative goals. Girls maintain relationships of higher quality and evaluate more positively the overall non-negative social goals. Children’s perception of friendship quality correlates to the evaluation of their social goals. Children evaluate the overall non-negative social goals less positively when they perceive that their relationship is more conflicted. In addition, children who are less accepted by peers, more aggressive and perceive their relationship as more conflicted, evaluate the overall negative social goals more positively. These findings support the hypothesis that children’s social difficulties in their peer group constitute their everyday social experience which, along with their experience of friendship - such as the maintenance of more conflicted relationships -, affect their adjustment to friendship.
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