Beck and Clark (2009) found self-report evidence that adults are more likely to offer support to a potential friend than to seek identical support from that potential friend, but that this asymmetry between offering and seeking support weakens among close friends. The present study sought to behaviorally replicate these findings in adults as well as to explore the developmental emergence of this phenomenon by examining when children would display similar patterns of offering and seeking support. Four-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 8-year-olds, and adults were given opportunities to offer or request identical support from peers. Sometimes participants were close friends; sometimes they were potential friends. The findings for adults’ support behaviors replicated previous self-report findings. Adults were more likely to offer support than to request identical support from potential friends, whereas adults were just as likely to request support as they were to offer support to close friends; 8-year-olds showed a similar pattern of behaviors. However, 4- and 6-year-olds did not distinguish between potential and close friends; they were just as likely to request support as they were to offer support to both potential and close friends. The discussion highlights the importance of understanding how these support processes unfold in new, developing relationships compared to in close, established relationships, as well as of understanding when these processes might emerge during childhood.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science
- Close relationships
- early childhood
- middle childhood