Department or Program


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Tracy Gleason


This study examined the distinctions between peer relationship types and whether certain individual and relationship features were associated with friendship development and maintenance. Eighty-two 3- to 5-year-olds’ reciprocal (both children nominate each other) and unilateral-given (only one child nominates the other) friendships were examined using teacher ratings of characteristics, observations of common activities, children’s peer acceptance, and teacher reports of children’s social competence. Friendships were examined again three months later. Reciprocal friends had higher levels of positive features and warmth than unilateral-given relationships, and these differences were noticeable to teachers. Unilateral-given friendship changing to reciprocal was related to the level of some positive features present in the relationship and the peer acceptance level of the unilateral-giver, while reciprocal friendship maintenance was significantly related to the frequency with which pairs played together. These findings support the idea that friendship formation and maintenance are distinct processes.

Available for download on Tuesday, April 19, 2022