Psychology of the Child and the Adolescent

By Robert I. Watson; Henry Clay Lindgren | Go to book overview
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following rules and having to keep quiet are valued positively. This latter finding makes sense in terms of the fact that the lives of lower-class children are more likely to be chaotic and unpredictable; for many of them, school is the only place where they can count on the security of an orderly, dependable routine.

We should note, however, that although children's evaluations of school decline somewhat with increasing maturity, their reactions are generally positive. Berk, Rose, and Stewart observed that their American subjects, by and large, responded positively to questions about their school and were willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, irrespective of SES and IQ differences. The ratings in Figure 14-11 are also almost entirely positive. Even following rules gets a favorable endorsement. Such findings should be heartening and supportive to teachers who find themselves being stricter than they would like to be, who work hard at the task of making their classrooms interesting "laboratories for learning," and who generally try their best to live up to everyone's expectations of them.


In North American culture, the major influence during middle and late childhood comes from the peer group. Children in this age group leave home (literally and figuratively) to a much greater degree than younger children. The time spent at home declines to its lowest level during adolescence. The peer group teaches the child complex social skills he could not acquire at home. It is able to exert influence because it provides the child with an environment that is more exciting and often more attractive than that available at home, an environment in which the child can achieve status and mutual acceptance. The influence of the peer group is expressed through its social norms and behavior models as well as by its power to accept or reject children. American children appear to be more influenced by peer norms than by adult standards of behavior, unlike Russian and Hindu children, for instance. The mere presence of other children has an effect of arousal, which in turn seems to facilitate misbehavior.

Boys are more likely to engage in aggressive behavior than are girls. Emotional arousal appears to facilitate aggressive behavior in boys and prosocial behavior in girls. Hostility, which usually precedes or accompanies acts of aggression, may occur in subsurface or covert forms-- stubbornness, for example. An analysis of the fantasy material produced by underachievers suggests that they are covertly hostile. A great deal of current interest has been directed toward the influence of violence and aggression in the mass media. Bandura, Ross, and Ross showed children films of adult aggression and vigorous nonaggressive play. Their results


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