The aspects of the children’s social behaviour within the school environments significantly depend on the functioning and impact of the peer social networks. In their article “What Makes a Girl (or a Boy) Popular (or Unpopular)? African American Children’s Perceptions and Developmental Differences”, Xie and the group of researchers present the results of the investigation on the concept of children’s popularity within the peer social networks (Xie et al., 2006, p. 600).
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The researchers’ goal was to examine the children’s visions of popularity in relation to school peer social networks which are typical for high-risk African American communities and inner-city neighborhoods.
The researchers focused on the sample consisting of 489 African American students studying in Grade 1, Grade 4, and Grade 7. The range of schools was limited to the schools from impoverished inner-city neighborhoods with the high percentage of the African American population.
The African American children’s visions of popularity were investigated with the help of interviews and open-ended questions. The authors concentrated on such variables as children’s age and gender in order to state and compare their attitudes to popularity and the impact of deviant or aggressive behaviors on students’ popularity.
According to the research’s findings, discussing the concept of popularity, students of Grade 4 and Grade 7 refer to appearance and social characteristics, male students of Grade 7 focus on deviant or aggressive behaviours to increase popularity and demonstrate homophily. However, the majority of students from Grade 1, Grade 4, and Grade 7 (female students) discuss aggressive behaviours as negative for influencing popularity (Xie et al., 2006, p. 604).
The discussed research is based on the strong theoretical background with references to such psychological and social theories as the theory of personality development, the social learning theory, and the ecological theory. Furthermore, the conducted investigation depends on the results of the authors’ previous researches in the field in which the school social networks typical for the African American students within the inner-city neighborhoods were studied (Xie, Cairns, & Cairns, 1999, p. 147; Xie, Farmer, & Cairns, 2003, p. 355).
This new research can be discussed as urgent and important because of providing opportunities for the discussion of the role of deviance, age, physical maturation, and appearance for the children’s vision of popularity in relation to the school environments in high-risk communities.
The main strengths and implications of the research are the examination on the concept popularity through the lens of children’s vision of deviance and aggressive attitudes because these behaviours are often observed in the disadvantaged African American communities and inner-city neighborhoods; moreover, the researchers discussed the issue with references to different age and gender groups to receive the complete and credible results.
The third strength is the appropriate use of the statistical method ANOVA to provide the measure analysis because of relying on the qualitative data received with the help of questionnaires and conducted interviews. The next strength is the obvious connection of the investigation with previous researches to complete the examination of the phenomenon (Dunifon, 2005).
Nevertheless, there are also potential flaws related to the study. The usage of open-ended questions for interviews is not relevant for working with students of Grades 1, 4, and 7. Thus, the used open-ended questions are too general for the study. As a result, the percentage of ‘do not know’ answers is rather high to receive the accurate results.
Furthermore, the individual and interpersonal characteristics are not taken into consideration in this study to contribute to analyzing the general data regarding the students’ popularity. These potential flaws can be overcome in the authors’ further researches.
Dunifon, R. (2005). How to read a research article. Retrieved from https://www.human.cornell.edu/
Xie, H., Cairns, R. B., & Cairns, B. D. (1999). Social networks and configurations in inner-city schools: Aggression, popularity, and implications for students with EBD. Journal of Emotional & Behavioral Disorders, 7(1), 147–156.
Xie, H., Farmer, T. W., & Cairns, B. D. (2003). Different forms of aggression among inner-city African-American children: Gender, configurations, and school social networks. Journal of School Psychology, 41(1), 355–375.
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Xie, H., Li, Y., Boucher, S., Hutchins, B., & Cairns, B. (2006). What makes a girl (or a boy) popular (or unpopular)? African American children’s perceptions and developmental differences. Developmental Psychology, 42(4), 599–612.