Social Networks Emotions and Gender

In addition to studying dyadic friendships, researchers have also explored the structure and functions of children's larger social networks. With the possible exception of research showing that young adolescents who are aggressive tend to form networks with other aggressive youth (Cairns, Cairns, Neckerman, Gest, & Gariepy, 1988), little research has explored processes of emotion regulation among children's social networks. However, research and theory suggests that children might form networks based on similar styles of emotion management, and also socialize each other in how to manage strong feelings. For example, one study of the relation between children's naturally occurring social networks and their motivation in school found that children formed networks with others of similar academic motivation, but also that network members became more similar over time in their motivation for doing well in school (Kindermann, 1993). Given the centrality of emotion regulation in forming and maintaining relationships, it seems natural that similar processes might operate for strategies for emotion regulation. Children with similar emotion regulation styles might be attracted to form social groups, and in turn, the norms of the social network could shape individuals' styles of emotion management. Given that girls and boys are largely operating in separate social networks, it will be important to examine whether girls' and boys' groups develop different strategies for coping with anger and other negative emotions.

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