Despite the importance of social support across the lifespan and extensive research on supportive communication between adults, little is known about how children or adolescents respond to the comforting efforts of their peers. The current study was designed to examine how 5th, 7th, and 9th graders evaluate six peer comforting strategies (sympathy, account giving, companionship, advice, optimism, and minimization) and to assess moderating effects of age, gender, and situation. Participants (N = 292) read scenarios involving a social rejection or academic failure and rated messages for affective improvement and perceived caring. Results indicated that companionship was the most positively evaluated strategy on both dependent variables, whereas minimization and account were least positively evaluated; sympathy, advice, and optimism received intermediate evaluations. These results were somewhat moderated by age, gender, and situation. Results are discussed with respect to potential differences between adult and tween evaluations and expectations in comforting interactions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Linguistics and Language