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Shared Meaning in Boy Toddlers' Peer Relations

Jeffrey Brenner and Edward Mueller
Child Development
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Apr., 1982), pp. 380-391
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1128980
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1128980
Page Count: 12
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Shared Meaning in Boy Toddlers' Peer Relations
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Abstract

What is the content of toddlers' peer interactions? This study proposed a new way of answering this old question. Instead of demonstrating what behaviors toddlers directed to each other, we asked what themes they could share. Social interactions with a single, mutually understood theme or topic were said to possess "shared meaning." 2 different play groups, of 6 boy toddlers each, were studied. Dyadic play sessions were videotaped throughout each year. 3 sets of dyad tapes were coded from each year, with each set being composed of all 15 possible pairs from each group. An observational coding system identified 385 social interactions and determined their length, the presence or absence of shared meaning, and specific theme. While shared meaning characterized only a small portion of play-time, toddler boys were able to share 12 identifiable themes, with the most frequent being "motor copy," "object exchange," and "object possession struggle." The hypothesis that longer interactions tend to contain shared meaning was strongly supported by the data. Some evidence of increase in the frequency and variety of shared meanings was found in the second year of life. Also found was the tendency for shared meaning to become more frequent after interactions became longer. The utility of the concept of shared meaning for understanding toddler peer relations was discussed.

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