Differential Stability of Reciprocal Friendships and Unilateral Relationships Among Preschool Children Repository Citation

Elaine Gershman, Donald Hayes, Elaine Gershman, Hayes, Donald
The goal of. the stu dy was to determine whether reciproca l friendships among preschool children are more stable over extended tim e intervals than are unilateral relationships. Thus, preschoolers named and cited reasons for liking their two closest friends in an initial testing session and again in a 4-to 6-month follow-up. Mutual friendships were also verified through observation of free play in the classroom. Although only one unilateral relationship remained constant across the two testing
more » ... sessions, two-thirds of the reciprocal relationships remained stable. In terms of the bases cited for liking, signifi ca nt differen ces were evident between reciprocal and unilateral relationsnips for the dimensions of general play and com mon activities. The findings are discussed in terms of Cooney and Selman 's (1978) stage model. which assumes that friendship during earl y childhood is highly transitory. The developme nt of interpersonal relations among ch ildren has been a topic of interest for many years (see Hartup, 1970) . Recently, one facet of such development, the evolution of c hildren's friendship, has received considerab le attention by researchers. In fact ,