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The Impact of Clique Membership on Children's Social Behavior and Status Nominations


  • This research was partly supported by a Graduate School Dean's Award from the University of Georgia, Athens granted to the first author.

Kyongboon Kwon, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Enderis Hall 765, Milwaukee, WI 53211, USA. Email:


The impact of children's clique membership on their peer nominations for social behaviors and status was examined in a sample of 455 third- through fifth-grade children. Social identity theory (SIT) and children's peer group affiliation and context served as primary conceptual frameworks for this investigation. As suggested by SIT, results indicated that children displayed favorable views toward their own cliquemates, nominating cliquemates more often for positive characteristics (e.g., prosocial, cool) and high status indicators (like-most, most-popular) than for negative characteristics (e.g., aggression) and low status indicators (like-least, least-popular). At the same time, children's views toward their cliquemates were commensurate with the clique's normative reputations as determined by the broader peer group (i.e., grade). This suggests that children's perceptions toward their cliquemates, albeit favorable, are also regulated by the overall clique context. Meaningful gender and grade effects on children's cliquemate nomination patterns were found. Findings also were discussed regarding the impact of clique size on a peer-based assessment of social reputations and status.