Girls vs. Boys: Social Butterflies vs. Wallflowers

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Is your son or daughter the social butterfly or wallflower of the class?  A new study by a Michigan State University Psychologist shows that their sex might be the reason why.

In one of the first studies that look at how girls’ and boys’ peer networks develop across grades, psychologists find that both sexes aren’t as different as we think they are.

“Although we tend to think that girls’ and boys’ peer groups are structured differently, these differences disappear as children get older,” Jennifer Watling Neal, assistant professor of psychology, was quoted as saying.

This may be due to an increased interaction with the opposite sex.

“Younger boys and girls tend to play in same-sex peer groups, but every parent can relate to that moment when their son or daughter suddenly takes an interest, whether social or romantic, in the opposite sex,” Neal added.

The study examined peer relationships of third through eighth grade students at a school in Chicago. Neal found that girls in the younger grades tend to flock together in smaller, more intimate groups while boys’ groups were progressively larger.

Neal concluded that the difference disappeared by the eighth grade yet further research with a single group of children over time is needed to confirm results.

SOURCE: Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, August 2010

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