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Jean-Max Noël
Danielle Leclerc
F. Francis Strayer
Une analyse fonctionnelle du répertoire social des enfants d'âge
préscolaire en groupes de pairs
In: Enfance. Tome 43 n°4, 1990. pp. 405-421.
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http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/enfan_0013-7545_1990_num_43_4_1958
Abstract
Research in social ethology has traditionally assumed that the social functioning of preschool children
can be analyzed in terms of functional similarity of behavioral acts characterizing different forms of
interpersonal exchange. This study documents age changes in the organization of early social activity
by analyzing patterns of naturally occurring social exchange in stable peer groups. Observational data
were collected for 182 children ranging from 10 to 66 months. Each peer group was homogeneous with
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sampling procedures (Altmann, 1974). The social taxonomy includes 14 categories of affiliative and
aggressive activities as well as acts terminating social exchange (Strayer, 1980). A total of 180 hours of
observational data were obtained yielding 44,385 social acts for the analysis.
All categories of behavior were observed, albeit at strikingly different rates at each age level. First-order
transition matrices were compiled for each of the primary behavioral categories. These matrices showed
the likely social consequences of each act in terms of a social partner's probable response. To assess
the functional similarity of particular activities, we calculated Pearson correlation coefficients between
action across social consequences. The obtained correlations were treated as similarity indices that
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dendrograms provided a visual illustration of the structure of the peer repertoire for the entire sample,
while subsequent analyses permitted exploring variation in the functional organization of peer activity as
a function of both age and gender.
All analyses provided a primary distinction between dispersive and cohesive activities. However, results
did not support the regrouping of all conflict within the traditional class of agonistic activity. Competition
was always functionally separated from other forms of aggressive activity, appearing as early as one
year as a distinct subset of dispersive activity. The organization of aggressive activity showed clear
developmental change. At one year of age, Threat was too infrequent to be considered in the analyses.
Among two-year-olds, threat was functionally indistinguishable from forms of passive communication.
It's only at three-years that Threat began to assume the same consequences as the physical Attack.
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category of Active Affiliation. At three years, the latter category divided into two distinct components of
proximal and distal affiliation.
These empirical analyses provide a more nuanced and developmentally appropriate interpretation of
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complexity of the aggressive and affiliative systems during the preschool years and establish more
precise functional distinctions among social activities at different age levels.
Résumé
Pour constituer un répertoire social utilisable dans les recherches sur le fonctionnement social des
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enfants âgés d'un an à cinq ans, en tenant compte des liens fonctionnels susceptibles d'exister entre les
différentes catégories gestuelles déjà établies empiriquement. Les résultats mettent en évidence cinq
classes de comportements qui confirment la distinction classique faite entre les deux systèmes affiliatif
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impact social que le comportement agressif (Attaquer et Menacer). Par ailleurs, le répertoire affiliatif qui
s'avère complexe différencie deux classes principales de comportements : l'une regroupe des gestes
amicaux qui traduisent un style de relation plutôt passif (Orienter, Observer et Perdre) alors que dans
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suggèrent une distinction à faire entre des échanges actifs à proximité (Approcher et Contacter) et à
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développementales qui caractérisent l'utilisation fonctionnelle du répertoire social des jeunes enfants
entre un an et cinq ans.