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Social networks and social competence: Exploring the effects of early adolescent friendships

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Perhaps the main significance of this work was in its methodological contributions. Most noteworthy were its attempts to expand network analysis beyond the examination of supportive functions, the use of a more objective measure of social support, and the use of a multivariate hierarchical strategy of analysis.

This study obtained correlations between social network variables and social competence indices that were highly suggestive. However, it is important to keep in mind that the sample under investigation was fairly small and relatively homogeneous with respect to ethnicity, social class, and even values. Whether the exact nature of these relationships will generalize to different samples remains an empirical question. In fact, one would suppose that some of the results would be quite different for a population that does not highly value school. Further research, ideally longitudinal in nature, is sorely needed to address some of the issues raised by this study, both in terms of the social support/network literature and the possibly changing characteristics of minority children and their social environments as they move from preadolescence to adolescence.

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Correspondence to Ana Mari Cauce.

Additional information

The author was in part funded by the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program and the Yale Bush Center of Child Development and Social Policy while this research was undertaken. The author thanks Edmund Gordon, Edward Zigler, Seymour Sarason, Roger Weissberg, Ron McMullen, and Lawrence Cohen for their helpfulness throughout this project.

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Cauce, A.M. Social networks and social competence: Exploring the effects of early adolescent friendships. Am J Commun Psychol 14, 607–628 (1986).

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  • Social Support
  • Social Network
  • Social Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Network Analysis