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


Conclusions:

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
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