First Advisor

Thomas Kindermann

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors




Child development -- Social aspects, Interpersonal relations in children, Friendship in children, Developmental psychology, Age groups -- Psychological aspects




Strategies to examine children’s peer relationships at school can be broadly distinguished into studies of Sociometric Acceptance (Social Status), studies of Social Crowds, studies of Friendship Groups, and studies or Social Networks of frequent interaction partners. Sociometric groups and social crowds are defined as social categories, that is, groups containing students with similar characteristics or lifestyles who often do not share close relationships. In contrast, friendship groups and groups of frequent interaction partners necessitate close and mutual connections between the members of each group.

This study focuses on interaction groups and the ways in which the labels that children assign to groups differentiate the groups according to classroom engagement and according to their academic motivation, specifically, their teacher-rated motivation in the classroom. Traditionally, like friendship groups, interaction groups tend to be treated as one ‘generic’ peer group composite across all members, and no distinctions are made according to the purposes these groups may have. Using existing data (Kindermann, 2007), this study examined the names and characteristics that students ascribed to groups of peers whom they observed to frequently interact with one another at their school and attempted to categorize these groups in a meaningful way. Based on the literature, the groups were expected to roughly fall into three categories: academically-oriented groups, socially-oriented groups, and location-oriented groups. The analyses describe the groups based on group members’ engagement in the classroom, which is a key indicator of children’s academic motivation, examine possible differences in processes of peer selection according to academic characteristics, and suggest how different peer groups might influence their members in different ways.


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