Notes for Adolescents and their Friends
School of Family and Consumer Sciences 400.404/504 Instructor: D. Witt
Sociology is the study of people in groups. Other than
the Family, no other group is as important to individual
development than ... The Peer Group. Relative
to the individual Peers are near in age, similar in
behavior choices, and close at hand for ready interaction.
Normal competent social development in adolescence depends
on good peer relationships.
Peer Group Functions: A group of peers provides the adolescent with:
The Peer Groups have hierarchical structure - a "pecking order" consisting of status connected by role:
1. consists of positions of status which are filled from the top and bottom to the middle.
2. has a normative structure
3. promotes frustration and competition, which fosters in-group solidarity and between-group hostility
According to studies, children interact with their peers:
Are Peers necessary for development? Positive peer interactions have been found to reduce psychosocial outcomes (depression, self-esteem, stress) and behavioral outcomes (delinquency, alcohol, academic performance/school dropouts). Peer support/influence is also linked to adolescent’s ability to cope with stressful life events. Group formation can occur over Music, Politics, Religion, Ethnicity, or Sexual Preference.
According to J. Piaget and Harry Sullivan, the learning experience from peers are essential towards forming perspectives on the difference between right and wrong, healthy and long-term intimate relationships, Not all peer interactions are healthy - When children are cast out of peer related social groups, they generally suffer across multiple levels.
Crowds and Cliques as special Peers: Members of a CROWD interact because of common interests in activities - such as people in the audience at a rock concert or at a movie or pep rally. Group interest here is narrow and short lived. CLIQUES are formed on the basis of wider similarity of interests and social ideals. Selection of a clique often involves conflict, and allegiance to a group that may overshadow personal identity and membership in formal organizations. Cliques are smaller and more intimate, and have higher cohesion.
Consequences of Peer Popularity, Rejection & Neglect:
Concepts of perspectivism - empathy, and role taking here. Popularity with peers is related (according to teens themselves): to:
CONFORMITY (to something - some idea - some group):
Coordinated Worlds of Parents and Peers - Increased
allegiance to the peer group marks only superficial
value differences with parents. It is the expression of
values and not their basic content that provides
grounds for conflict. Children who have
positive relationship with their parents tend to also
have positive relationships with their peers.
Differences between parents and adolescents are a matter
of degree of agreement with value, not direction of the
value itself. The Generation Gap, in which
adolescents and their parents are not communicating is
really a generalization gap on the part of adults.
In reality, there is a lot of overlap in values between
parents and teens.
Neglected Children. Children who are infrequently nominated as a best friend but are not disliked by their peers.Professionals have noted that the best way to help them develop is to teach them how to be noticed by their peers.
Children who are infrequently nominated as a best friend
and are actively disliked by their peers.Rejected children
tend to have more serious problems later in life; more
often than neglected (school dropout, delinquency,
aggression).10 to 20% of these adolescents tend to be shy
Regulation - According to Kenneth Dodge, children
go through five steps in processing information about
their social world:
- Children who can control their emotions and reduce
outbursts generally tend to be more accepted by their
Inappropriate strategies that will be contrary to social
Intimacy = closeness, ease of communication, attachment and affection and
Friendship = voluntary involvement in mutual activities with one other person.
In studies college women were likely to have more integrated and intimate friends. High school boys had more friendly or uninvolved relations. Integrated relationships were likely to occur for male/female pairs in later adolescence, while boys tend not to develop these among their male friends as do girls.
Romantic Relationships: Love and Sex are mighty
human needs. Although they have been co-opted by commerce
to sell us a wide array of products and services, Love and
Sex remain the prime motivator for major segments of our
social lives. Such a statement is much less cynical
that it appears on face value.
The way it works is different for boys and girls.
The simplistic description is this:
The problem for the adolescent is to find a way to legitimately get sexual needs met and not violate social ideals in the process. Falling in love seems to be the one thing we can do to lessen the negative connotations of being sexually active. To accomplish this, we need to date.
Precursor to Love and Romance: The Functions of Dating
Dating Rituals - What do parents teach us about dating?
Love and Romance Among Adolescents--
Keeping in mind the importance of the audience of peers (real or imagined), adolescents are drawn to early romantic relationships for purposes of role rehearsal, measures of confirmation of personal attractiveness, and the mastery of romantic competencies. This is especially true for girls, but is true in general for all adolescents. It is only after some level of mastery is felt by the individual that he or she moves on to goals of realizing interpersonal intimacy and attachment, and the fulfillment of sexual desire. The duration of romantic relationships in early adolescence is telling of the depth of emotion attached to the exercise. Such relationships tend to last a matter of weeks or months, often ending at convenient times of the school year.
There are types of love that have been theorized and researched about. Limerence, or love-sickness, is characterized by intrusive thinking of the other, loss of appetite, day dreaming, and unrealistic fantasies about the possibilities of the couple. This is the type of love that sometimes accompanies pop or basketball star fandom. The feelings are often intense but are quickly extinguished, especially if the love-sick one has friends to keep them grounded.
Affectionate love, also called companionate love, occurs when an individual wants to have another person near and has a deep, caring affection for that person - only a little stronger emotion than a very deep and abiding friendship, and is often associated with adult relationships.
Romantic love, also called passionate love or Eros, has strong sexual and infatuation components, and it often predominates in the early part of a love relationship - in both other adolescents and young adults.
One of the problems in our culture regarding love is that the concept itself has been confused with happiness, fulfillment of material wants, and personal worth. Love and sexuality, or the promise of attaining them, is associate by advertisers, politicians, and the fashion industry to sell products. First, create a feeling of unworthiness, develop an intense desire to change, and offer an easy solution. Immature individuals have been falling victim to these techniques for decades because they work.
What to popular music groups sing about most often? Here's a recent list of the top ten songs played on the radio: Chris Brown Forever, Katy Perry I Kissed A Girl, Rihanna Disturbia, Jesse McCartney Leavin', Kardinal Offishall Featuring Akon Dangerous, Ne-Yo Closer, The Pussycat Dolls When I Grow Up, Estelle Featuring Kanye West American Boy, Jordin Sparks One Step At A Time , Coldplay Viva la Vida. Lots of love, looking for love, getting away from love, growing up so love can be found, perfect men, love that last forever and I don't have any idea what Disurbia is.
There is a strong interaction between media outlets to motivate the sale of popular product - you see product placement all over television and movies, popular songs appear in commercials, pop star breakfast cereal, movie stars selling "intelligent water" - all this confuses teenagers who are hard a work trying to make sense of a world that resists definition. It is unfair.
Some studies have statistically linked dating, being popular and well-adjusted state of mind. I suspect that some of these findings are attributable less to actual interpersonal well-being, and more to issues of normality, conformity, and the degree to which an individual feels close to a media-created ideal. A well-adjusted teenager who is madly in love may fail in school, where a less than well-adjusted teenager may do better in school without the pressures and time commitments of a love relationship.