THE EFFECTS OF FRIENDSHIP, GENDER, AND COMMUNICATION ON COOPERATIVE BEHAVIOR
Results of empirical studies of cooperation suggest that cooperatively-structured learning situations are positively perceived by students and are associated with many positive affective outcomes. Friendship, sex, and communication during task performance are variables that have been investigated as significant influences on cooperative behavior. Very few studies have examined any aspect of cooperation with an elementary school population. Yet this is the critical developmental stage during which the potential for cooperative behavior emerges. The present study proposed to examine the relationships among these variables with such a population.^ The primary area of investigation was the relationship between the degree of friendship of children and their performance on a task on which they must cooperate to obtain a solution. A secondary area was the role of communication and a third area was sex differences in task performance.^ The subjects were first and second graders in two Connecticut public elementary schools. A sociometric verbal choice measure was administered initially and again two weeks later to assess friendship among participants. Pairs were assigned as (a) friends--each child named the other on both occasions, or (b) non-friends--neither child named the other as a friend. The final number of subjects was 104, with a mean age of 7 years 6 months.^ Each dyad was given four trials on a block-building task developed by Goldberg and Maccoby (1965) to measure cooperative behavior. The experimenter recorded the total number of blocks on each tower as well as the number contributed by each partner. The number of verbalizations during task performance was also recorded. A transfer measure was included in which classroom teachers asked students to choose a partner with whom they would like to work on a project.^ The analysis of the sociometric data indicated that the reliability of friendship choices was significantly higher for friends than for non-friends (F = 12.25, p < .01). Males made significantly more choices than females (F = 4.29, p < .05). However, this may be attributable to the smaller number of males in the sample. They tended to have wider friendship groups which included most of the boys in the class. The male/non-friends group also built their towers with significantly more blocks than any of the other groups (F = 4.22, p < .05).^ Cooperative behavior during task performance was recorded in terms of the total number of blocks per tower. The number put on the tower by each partner was also recorded as a measure of the congruency in their relative contributions. However, the score was taken only at the end of the 15-second time interval. It was observed that in instances when the tower fell over, it could receive the same score as one in which partners piled a minimum number of blocks.^ There were no significant differences among the groups with regard to communication during task performance. However, there was a highly significant difference on the friendship dimension on the transfer measure (F = 19.85, p < .01). Friends selected the partner with whom they worked on the experimental task to work on a similar classroom activity more often than non-friends selected their former partner.^ Some of the major hypotheses were not supported because of the procedural limitations described previously. Recommendations for future research would include further investigation of cooperatively structured instruction in actual classroom settings. The research substantiates the benefits of cooperative learning situations but they are rarely utilized. A related area would involve the investigation of modeling influences in early childhood in which foster competitive rather than cooperative behavior. ^
STENBERG, LINNEA INGA, "THE EFFECTS OF FRIENDSHIP, GENDER, AND COMMUNICATION ON COOPERATIVE BEHAVIOR" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8120078.