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Theories of interpersonal attraction : an investigation of their applicability to children's peer relations through the gender cleavage phenomenon

Cowles, Sharon Clare 1996 , 'Theories of interpersonal attraction : an investigation of their applicability to children's peer relations through the gender cleavage phenomenon', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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It is recognised that children's experiences with their peers have implication for their adjustment in later life. Much research in the area of children's peer relations has been conducted. However, studies largely have been atheoretical in nature. Existing theories of interpersonal attraction more usually applied to adult social relations appear to have some applicability to understanding children's sociometric status and friendship. The aim of this review is to examine these theories and determine their usefulness with respect to the area of children's peer relations. One clearly identified peer relations phenomenon in the literature is the gender cleavage, that is, the tendency for children to prefer same-gender as opposed to opposite-gender peers as friends.
This review discusses the adequacy of two opposing theories of interpersonal attraction, specifically the Balance Theory (Heider, 1958) and the Theory of Social Exchange (Homans, 1951) in explaining gender cleavage. Although both theories may be used to explain children's peer preferences, it is not clear which is more useful in understanding children's peer relations.
The review concludes that the gender cleavage phenomenon, while constituting but one aspect of children's sociometric status and friendship, may provide a useful platform from which to test the applicability of two contrasting theories of interpersonal attraction to children's peer relations.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Cowles, Sharon Clare
Keywords: Interpersonal attraction, Interpersonal communication in children, Cognitive balance, Children
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 1996 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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Thesis (M.Psych.)--University of Tasmania, 1996. Includes bibliographical references

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