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   2011, Vol. 43 Issue (01) : 74-91     DOI:
The Peer Group as a Social and Cultural Context: Influence on Socioemotional Functioning in Chinese Children
CHEN Bin-Bin;LI Dan;CHEN Xinyin;CHEN Feng
(1 Department of Educational Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
(2 Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China)
(3 Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, 3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA)
(4 Sino-British College, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology 210005, China)
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Abstract  The experience of peer interaction is a unique context for development. Peer social cluster is one of the important forms of interpersonal interaction at the group level. As a social and cultural context, the peer group plays a significant and particular role in children’s social development. The process of social transition in China makes it possible for children of different social and cultural backgrounds to interact with each other in the same class. At the same time, they form peer groups with different social and cultural norms, which serve as a basis for the interpretation of particular social behaviors. Therefore, it is important to explore group background in the study of peer influence on individual socioemotional functioning.
The purpose in the current study was to explore, using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM), the peer group as a context for the socialization of children’s social competencies. In this one-year longitudinal study, 898 children from grade 3 to grade 5 were recruited from a suburban elementary school in Nantong, Jiangsu Province. Among them, there were 36.5 % urban children, 48.8 % rural children, and 10.4 % migrant children in the first year. In both first and second years, children were asked to provide peer nominations for sociable, prosocial, and assertive behaviors, and to complete the Social Cognitive Map (SCM) measure.
The analyses revealed several major results. First, at the individual level, group members had significantly higher scores on sociability, prosociality, assertiveness, and peer acceptance than did nonmembers. Urban children had significantly higher scores on assertiveness than did both rural and migrant children. The analysis also revealed a significant interaction between gender and background on prosociality. Second, peer groups were highly homogenous on social competences. Most children chose cross-background peers to form peer groups. Third, peer groups had significant main effects on socioemotional characteristics, except for prosocial behavior, over one year. Finally, to some extent, group social and cultural backgrounds moderated the group socialization function. Rural-urban groups had stronger effects on the development of sociability than did rural-migrant groups, while rural peer groups had stronger effects on the development of assertiveness than did urban peer groups.
Issue Date: 30 January 2011
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CHEN Bin-Bin,LI Dan,CHEN Xinyin,CHEN Feng. The Peer Group as a Social and Cultural Context: Influence on Socioemotional Functioning in Chinese Children[J]. ,2011, 43(01): 74-91.
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