830:331:01 Infant and Child Development
Spring 2003, Hudson

Effects of Peers and Siblings

Parents Vs. Peers: Do Parents Matter?

No --  Judith Rich Harris (1995): Group Socialization (GS) Theory of Development

A. Arguments:

1. Family environment does not affect  development

2. Socialization is context-specific form of learning

3. Behavior in groups is different from behavior between dyads; Peer groups socialize children in urbanized societies

4. Absence of peers:

5. Styles of parenting (Baumrind) :

6. Effects of divorce due to:

"... experiences in childhood and adolescent peer groups, not experiences at home, account for environmental influences on personality development."

B. Parents DO matter: Counter-Arguments
1. Patterson et al.:

2. Parents control access to peer groups.

3. Is there evidence that peer groups do not embrace larger values of society (including parents)?

4. Harris’ research review is selective:

5. Effects may be bi-directional, but parents still have an effect.

6. Intervention research indicates that changes in parents’ behavior affects child outcomes

C. What we can learn from Harris
1.Many important effects are bi-directional and mediated


Theme 1: Nature and Nurture: All Interactions, All the Time

Theme 2: Children Play Active Roles in Their Own Development

Theme 3: Development Is Both Continuous and Discontinuous

Theme 4: Mechanisms of Developmental Change

Theme 5: The Sociocultural Context Shapes Development

Theme 6: How Do Children Become So Different from One Another?

Theme 7: Child Development Research Can Improve Children’s Lives