The Effects of Relationship Quality on Affect Expressed in Dyadic Interactions of Preschool-Aged Children
Type of Degreethesis
Human Development and Family Studies
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The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of relationship quality on expressed affect in the dyadic interactions of preschool-aged children. The effects of six different types of relationship quality (i.e., two like dyads, two control dyads, and two dislike dyads), as well as the effects of the age and sex of the dyad, on the positive and negative affect expressed by the dyads were examined. In addition, the study attempted to control for the effects of personality by controlling for eight individual characteristics believed to influence the expression of both positive and negative affect. To address this issue, preschool children from two separate early learning centers were studied (N = 365). Of these children there was a total of 1550 dyads. The sample was taken from four years worth of data from a larger study on social competence, friendship, and emotion. From each year, information on children’s friendship choices, expressed affect, and internal characteristics was collected. Four separate hypotheses were tested. First, it was expected that a dyad’s relationship quality would be associated with the dyadic expression of affect. Analyses supported this hypothesis. Specifically, like dyads expressed the most positive affect and dislike dyads expressed the most negative affect. Second, it was expected that same-sex dyads would express more positive and negative affect than mixed-sex dyads. Analyses partially supported this hypothesis. Dyad sex only affected the expression of negative affect with male dyads expressing the most, mixed-sex dyads expressing the second most, and female dyads expressing the least. Third, it was expected that older dyads would express more positive and negative affect than younger dyads. Analyses testing for the effects of dyad age on the expression of affect supported this hypothesis. Fourth, it was expected that individual characteristics would influence the expression of affect but not alter the effects of relationship quality, dyad sex, and dyad age. This hypothesis was partially supported. Certain individual characteristics were associated with the expression of affect and the effects of relationship quality, dyad sex, and dyad age were altered in some analyses, but not all. This study contributes to the literature on child development. The quality of peer relationships influences children’s expressed affect, which is believed to lead to a variety of life outcomes.