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Title: 'What do they tell their friends?' - Intimacy and self-disclosure in young children's friendships
Author: Anagnostaki, Lida
ISNI:       0000 0001 3419 9589
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2006
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The research investigated the development of verbal intimacy in young children's (3.5-6.5 years of age) friendships by measuring their capacity for restrictive self-disclosure (i. e. the greater disclosure of information of highly personal content to friends than other individuals, as opposed to the equal disclosure of information of low personal content to all individuals). Young children's capacity for intimate friendships is ill understood, partly due to limited or unsubstantiated data regarding the types of information that are considered high and low in personal content at this age, as the First Study (N = 110) showed. The Second Study (N = 93) attempted to fill this gap in our knowledge by investigating the sort of information that children consider secret. The results showed that children's ability to differentiate secret and non-secret information increased with age: 4-year-old children could not systematically differentiate secret from non-secret information, 5-year-old children systematically identified information that was not secret but were not consistent in their identification of secret items, while 6-year-old children systematically identified and differentiated secret and non-secret items. However, children of all ages identified as secrets the statements which included a specific cue, such as the word surprise, in their wording. The Third Study (N = 209) investigated whether young children employ the restrictive disclosure-to-friends pattern when revealing the secret pieces of information. Moreover, the study investigated whether specific cues influence young children in applying the restrictive disclosure pattern, and to this effect participants were allocated randomly to either the 'clue condition' group (where they were given a clue that some information might be secret) or the 'no clue condition' group. Children in the 'clue condition' group treated the majority of the statements as secret information and therefore tended to only share it with a friend or with nobody. In contrast, in the `no clue condition' group statistically significant differences were found only in the secret items, suggesting that, when not influenced by an adult, children have the ability to identify highly personal/secret information and to treat it by accordingly applying the restrictive disclosure-to-friends pattern. Taken together, the findings suggest that young children engage in restrictive self-disclosure to friends in some, but not all, circumstances, and thus display signs of verbal intimacy in their friendships.
Supervisor: Sutton, A. ; Wright, M. Sponsor: Alexandros S. Onassis Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available