Sunday, March 31, 2013

Peer Interaction and Cognitive Development

This study focuses on the effect interacting with a child's peers has on his or her cognitive development. Eighty-one children from kindergarten, first, second, and third grades were studied based on their cognitive and social development. Piaget proposed that during the this time in a child's development, physical and social growth are closely related to each other, and peer interaction is a causal force helping to bring about this change in cognition. There were two hypotheses developed based on these concepts. First, was the idea that peer relations develop in a manner parallel to physical development, and this was significantly supported by the study. The second hypothesis was that a child's cognitive development would be directly affected by the quality of his peer relations, which was judged by popularity rankings. Popularity was found to be closely related to social development, but its relationship to physical development was relatively small.

I think peers are a big influence on children and adolescents because they spend most of their days in school, where they are constantly interacting with them. The idea that social development is related to popularity is not that surprising to me. I think this might not even be necessarily a causal relationship, as much as a correlation. Children who are outgoing and get along with others are more likely to have many friends and be popular among their peers.

As far as the connection between physical and social development, it makes sense that they would develop at the same rate. For example, when a toddler is able to walk and talk, they can interact more with those around them. Also, when children are older, they start going to preschool and kindergarten. This gives them more opportunities to interact with others and develop their social skills, which they've only been able to develop at home so far.

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