Close friends and acquaintances were identified among 34 nursery school toddlers and preschoolers based on behavioral observation sociograms and child and teacher sociometric ratings. The children were then paired with their friends and acquaintances for dyadic play interactions. Play behaviors were coded for the videotaped play sessions, heart rate was monitored, and cortisol levels were assayed from saliva samples. Greater concordance was noted for friend versus acquaintance pairs on some play behaviors, on baseline heart rate, and on cortisol levels, suggesting that friends become attuned to each others' behaviors and physiological rhythms as early as the toddler/preschool stage. Furthermore, findings suggest that stress experienced by young children may be reduced by the presence of a close friend, thereby reinforcing the notion that early friendships play an important role in development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology