Family and peer influences to child social development

Reaserch Team:

Manuela Veríssimo & António Santos (Project Leaders)
Filipa Castro
Nuno Torres
Ana Paula Machado
Fernanda Salvaterra
Inês Peceguina
Joana Maia
João Correia
João Daniel
Lígia Monteiro
Lisa Roque
Mauro Pimenta
Bruno Ferreira
Filipa Silva
Marília Fernandes
Orlando Santos
Teresa Rolão

Project's Summary:

In the past four decades, the study of social behaviour has rapidly developed into one of the most interesting areas of research, connecting biological and social sciences. These studies have shed light on the richness and diversity of human social organization and consequently provided researchers with tools to understand how natural selection shapes psychology and social organization in group-living mammals, allowing scientists to go further in understanding human behavioural evolution.

Social relationships can be conceptualised as the result of a sequence of interactions between two individuals. Competition, social attraction and cooperation are the main principles governing interactions among primates. These often conflicting tendencies are integrated into a cohesive system of social relationships, although traditionally most attention has been given to the inequalities resulting from dominance relationships. Nowadays there is an emphasis on more positive features of social behaviour, such as coordination, negotiation, reconciliation and cooperation. We intend to study both family and peer relations. At the level of the family relations we will study how social context constrains the quality of child attachment. We are particularly interested in studying the process of construction of internal working models. At the same time we intend to continue to study the child adaptation to preschool and the structural characteristics of the existent groups. In the next years we will study the impact of positive and negative affect to preschool social adaptation and how affect is linked to friendship and social networks. By overlapping participants and some data collection methods we expect to have longitudinal data from 2 to 6 years old from the family and the peer group.

Project’s aims:

1. To study conflict and reconciliation behaviours in preschool children.

2. To study normative changes in the expression of positive and negative affect in children from 2.5 to 5.5 years of age. We will test the hypotheses that positive affect will be the primary predictor for positive outcomes (likeability, social engagement, friendships, engagement, etc).

3. What individual and dyadic mechanisms/processes contribute to children’s mental representations of attachment relationships in the preschool period?

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