Children’s friendships in middle childhood: how number of friends, reciprocity and friendship quality relate to peer and school identification, and general self-worth

Rachel Maunder, Claire Monks

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Abstract

Children’s friendships are important for well-being and school adjustment, but few studies have examined multiple indices of friendships together in middle childhood. The current study surveyed 7 to 11-year olds (n = 314) about their friendships, best friendships, friendship quality and indices of self-worth, identification with peers and identification with school. Peer relationships were positively related to self-worth, but not identification with peers or school. Best friendship quality moderated the relationship between number of reciprocated friendship nominations and self-worth. Children with a reciprocated best friend had higher friendship quality and peer identification than others. Where best friendship was reciprocated, the relationship with identification with peers was mediated via positive friendship quality. The results suggest that friendship reciprocity is particularly relevant for children’s self-worth and identification with peers. The findings are discussed in relation to the importance of fostering the development of reciprocated friendships.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2018

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title = "Children’s friendships in middle childhood: how number of friends, reciprocity and friendship quality relate to peer and school identification, and general self-worth",
abstract = "Children’s friendships are important for well-being and school adjustment, but few studies have examined multiple indices of friendships together in middle childhood. The current study surveyed 7 to 11-year olds (n = 314) about their friendships, best friendships, friendship quality and indices of self-worth, identification with peers and identification with school. Peer relationships were positively related to self-worth, but not identification with peers or school. Best friendship quality moderated the relationship between number of reciprocated friendship nominations and self-worth. Children with a reciprocated best friend had higher friendship quality and peer identification than others. Where best friendship was reciprocated, the relationship with identification with peers was mediated via positive friendship quality. The results suggest that friendship reciprocity is particularly relevant for children’s self-worth and identification with peers. The findings are discussed in relation to the importance of fostering the development of reciprocated friendships.",
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