Opposites Do Not Attract: Social Status and Behavioral-Style Concordances and Discordances Among Children and the Peers Who Like or Dislike Them

Abstract

Homophily, a term used to describe the tendency to associate with similar others, serves as a basis for attraction among children. The converse may also be true. Dissimilarity appears to contribute to dislike. In one of the only published studies to examine homophily and its converse, D. W. Nangle, C. A. Erdley, and J. A. Gold (1996) found that children were liked by peers who were similar to them in social status and behavioral style and disliked by peers who were dissimilar to them in social status and behavioral style. Examining gender influences, we were only able to partially replicate their findings in the present study. That is, evidence of homophily was found only for girls. In contrast, dissimilarity contributed to dislike for both genders, but was especially evident for boys. With respect to age, prosocial behavior appeared to have a more positive valence among younger girls, whereas aggressive behavior appeared to have a more negative valence among older boys. Attempts to reconcile these findings with those of the Nangle et al. (1996) investigation and the implications for understanding peer processes, gender influences, and behavior problems are discussed.

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Nangle, D.W., Erdley, C.A., Zeff, K.R. et al. Opposites Do Not Attract: Social Status and Behavioral-Style Concordances and Discordances Among Children and the Peers Who Like or Dislike Them. J Abnorm Child Psychol 32, 425–434 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JACP.0000030295.43586.32

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  • peer relations
  • homophily
  • dislike
  • social status
  • aggression