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During an individual interview, each of 64 subjects, aged 8 to 14 years, generated a peer perception grid in which 17 supplied figures were rated on 10 individually elicited bipolar concepts. Three aspects of the system are examined: the attributional characteristics of the concepts employed, the level of differentiation between peer figures, and the organizational complexity of relations between concepts. It is found that the frequency of concepts concerned with appearance, social role and behavior decreases with maturity, whereas the use of personality concepts increases steadily. With age, concepts become more adequately descriptive, less likely to involve a personal frame of reference, of greater “depth”, and of increasing discriminatory potential. Girls are generally precocious with respect to these transformations. These trends are paralleled by a progressive change in figure differentiation. With the youngest subjects marked sex stereotyping is found, and a developmental shift from stereotypic to differential processes in the perception of familiar peers is indicated. Despite this onto-genetic pattern, no age or sex differences are found in the complexity of relations between concepts, and it is suggested that this either raises doubts about the grid method of assessment or jeopardizes certain theoretical ideas about the growth of social cognition.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1977-01-01

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