Concordance of play behavior and physiology in preschool friends

Sheri Goldstein, Tiffany Field, Brian Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-351
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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