Beyond Situational Ambiguity in Peer Conflict: Unique and Combined Effects of Cues from an Antagonist and a Best Friend

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In accord with increasing recognition of the situation specificity of childhood social behaviors, individual and contextual differences in children’s responses to potential peer conflict were examined (hostile attribution, behavioral strategies, and affective reactions; N = 367, 9–12 years, 197 girls). Situational cues from 2 sources, the antagonist and a witnessing best friend, were designed to suggest the antagonist’s intentions. Multilevel modeling indicated that children’s responses generally varied more according to cues from the antagonist than friend, but the latter also affected responses, especially when conflicting with other situational information. Cognitive and affective responses were also influenced by gender, social goals, friendship quality, and self‐efficacy for peer interaction. Findings provide theoretical insight on the context of peer conflict.

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Child Development, v. 82, issue 6, p. 1921-1937