Friendship conflict and friendship dissolution the moderating role of gossip talk
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Friendship Conflict and Friendship Dissolution: The Moderating Role of Gossip Talk. Melissa Menzer , National Endowment for the Arts* Kenneth H. Rubin, University of Maryland—College Park Cathryn Booth- LaForce , University of Washington—Seattle Linda Rose- Krasnor , Brock University

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Friendship conflict and friendship dissolution the moderating role of gossip talk

Friendship Conflict and Friendship Dissolution: The Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

Melissa Menzer, National Endowment for the Arts*

Kenneth H. Rubin, University of Maryland—College Park

Cathryn Booth-LaForce, University of Washington—Seattle

Linda Rose-Krasnor, Brock University

NighistiDawit, University of Maryland—College Park

*All views expressed in this report are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Arts or the United States. Data presented from this research was funded by NIMH grant MH58116 awarded to Kenneth H. Rubin. Correspondence should be sent to melissamenzer@gmail.com.


Abstract
Abstract Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

The purpose of the study was to examine gossip talk and friendship conflict as predictors of friendship instability using a mixed-method approach. Participants were 200 fifth graders from the Greater Washington DC metropolitan area. Friendships nominations and stability were determined in schools; friendship conflict was determined by self-report; and gossip talk was coded via observational techniques. Results from the study suggest that while gossip talk and conflict are independently unrelated to friendship instability, the two constructs interacted to predict instability. More specifically, at high levels of gossip talk, the more self-reported conflict in the friendship, the more highly the likelihood that the friendship would end. Strengths, limitations, and future directions are discussed.


Friendship features
Friendship Features Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Some characteristics of friendship may be more highly related to stability than others

    • Social Support (e.g., intimacy, trust, and validation) has been related to friendship stability

    • Conflict has been considered to be harmful for friendships, when coupled with other features such as an inability to resolve conflict (Berndt et al., 1986; Bukowski et al., 1994; Bowker, 2004; Laursen & Purcell, 2009; Selman, 1980)


Gossip
Gossip Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Gossip refers to talk about a 3rd party person or someone who is not present (Foster, 2004)

  • Gossip valence can comprise positive evaluations, negative evaluations, or neutral/non-evaluative statements (McDonald et al., 2007)

  • It is often described as a “girl” behavior (e.g., Grotpeter & Crick, 1996)

  • Gossip is highly prevalent during middle childhood due to concerns with friendships and peer acceptance (Parker & Gottman, 1989)


Gossip and friendship
Gossip and Friendship Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Gossip has been speculated to be either: 1) a marker of closeness within a friendship (Parker & Gottman, 1989), and/or 2) a marker of friendship difficulty (Banny et al., 2011)

    • Frequent gossipers have relatively unstable friendships (Parker & Seal, 1996)

    • Gossip in conjunction with friendship conflict could lead to friendship dissolution


Gender
Gender Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Boys and girls differ in the nature and significance they place on friendships and peer relationships

    • Girls tend to have a stronger focus on relationships than boys (Benenson et al., 1997; De Goede et al., 2009; Maccoby, 1998; Parker & Asher, 1993)

    • Girls also tend to have friendships comprised of high levels of intimacy and self-disclosure (De Goede et al., 2009; Parker & Asher, 1993; Simpkins et al., 2006)


Overview and hypotheses
Overview and Hypotheses Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Little work has focused on the different types of gossip and their relations to friendship conflict and instability

    • Cumulative effect of “negative” behaviors may be more associated with friendship instability than specific negative behaviors in isolation

Friendship Conflict

Friendship Instability

Gossip

Talk


Method participants
Method: Participants Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • 100 dyads (50% boys; M age = 10.34 years) were drawn from a large normative sample of 825 fifth graders from 8 diverse public elementary schools


Method procedure 4 phases
Method: Procedure: 4 Phases Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Phase I: Friendship Nominations in Fall semester

    • Peer nominations of friends at school to determine mutuality/reciprocity of friendship (Bukowski et al., 1994)

  • Phase II: Assessment in the Lab

    • Reciprocated friends were invited to the lab together; 50 boy dyads and 50 girl dyads were randomly selected for inclusion in the analyses for this presentation

    • Youth filled out the Friendship Quality Questionnaire (Parker & Asher, 1993) to assess Friendship Conflict

    • Dyads engaged in videotaped friendship tasks (e.g., free play; discussion of best times; plan a weekend together)


Method procedure 4 phases cont
Method: Procedure: 4 Phases (cont.) Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Phase III: Friendship Nominations in Spring semester

    • Peer nominations of friends at school to determine mutuality/reciprocity of friendship (Bukowski et al., 1994)

  • Phase IV: Gossip Coding for Phase II

    • Gossip Instances were tallied for each dyad across all friendship tasks in Phase II

    • Gossip Type: Positive/Neutral, Negative (κ = .67)

    • Gossip Encouragement (κ = .84)

    • (Gottman, 1986; Leaper & Holliday, 1995; McDonald et al., 2007; Wilkinson, 1988)


Analysis plan hierarchical logistic regressions
Analysis Plan: Hierarchical Logistic Regressions Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Step 1: Gender

  • Step 2: Friendship Conflict (dyadic score)

  • Step 3: Gossip Type (Positive, Negative, Encouragement)

  • Step 4: 2 x 3

    • The last step only included one interaction of Friendship Conflict and either Positive Gossip, Negative Gossip, or Encouragement

    • Significant interactions were probed using MODPROBE (Hayes & Matthes, 2009) using 1 SD above and below the mean and at the mean on gossip

    • Logistic Regression Outcome (0 = unstable, 1 = stable).


Results
Results Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • 26 dyads were unstable, 74 dyads were stable

  • All forms of gossip were positively correlated with each other


Results1
Results: Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Step 1: Gender

  • Step 2: Friendship Conflict

  • Step 3: Gossip Type

  • Step 4: All interactions were significant!

ns

ns

ns

Friendship Instability

Friendship Instability

Friendship Conflict

Friendship Instability

Gender

Gossip

Type


Results positive gossip and friendship conflict
Results: Positive Moderating Role of Gossip TalkGossip and Friendship Conflict

ns

ns

-2.66**

Friendship Instability

Friendship Instability

Friendship Instability

Low

Positive Gossip

Moderate

Positive Gossip

High

Positive Gossip


Results negative gossip and friendship conflict
Results: Negative Gossip Moderating Role of Gossip Talkand Friendship Conflict

ns

ns

-1.97*

Friendship Instability

Friendship Instability

Friendship Instability

Low

Negative Gossip

Moderate

Negative Gossip

High

Negative Gossip


Results encouragement and friendship conflict
Results: Encouragement Moderating Role of Gossip Talkand Friendship Conflict

ns

ns

-2.18**

Friendship Instability

Friendship Instability

Friendship Instability

Low

Encouragement

Moderate

Encouragement

High

Encouragement


Discussion
Discussion Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • No clear direct relation between friendship conflict and instability

  • It is the use of gossip talk in conjunction with high rates of conflict in the friendship which leads to friendship termination.

    • At high levels of gossip talk, the more conflict that was reported by dyads, the higher the likelihood of friendship instability

  • At least in terms of examining friendship conflict and instability, distinctions between positive and negative qualities of gossip did not change the likelihood of the friendship outcome


Discussion cont
Discussion (cont.) Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Perhaps the use of gossip instigated conflicts in some relationships.

    • For example, children may not agree on their evaluations of others, providing the breeding ground for discussion, discourse, and conflicting ideas and values.

  • It may be that the ways in which conflict is resolved is more telling of whether conflict in a friendship has negative or positive consequences (Bowker, 2004; Laursen & Purcell, 2009).

  • Perhaps gossip may promote perceptions of betrayal (rather than conflict) among children because it raises issues of loyalty (Kuttler et al., 2002).


Strengths and limitations
Strengths and Limitations Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Strengths

    • Distinguishing between different gossip types

    • Using a mixed-method approach

  • Limitations

    • Gossip occurred only in the laboratory setting (biases)

    • Individual behaviors within the dyad were not parsed out from each other (WHAT DOES THIS MEAN????)

    • Individual differences were not addressed (LIKE WHAT????)

    • Small sample size (NOT REALLY!!!)


Future directions
Future Directions Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

  • Distinguish between conflict and betrayal

  • Examine conflict resolution

  • Run analyses using an Actor-Partner Interdependence Model approach (Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006)

  • Examine other antecedents and consequences of gossip talk

  • Explore friendship stability over a longer period of time

  • Investigate whether gossip talk is a person-centered behavior (i.e., does a child who gossips with one person also likely to gossip with others as well)


References
References Moderating Role of Gossip Talk

Banny, A.M., Heilbron, N., Ames, A., & Prinstein, M.J. (2011). Relational benefits of relational aggression: Adaptive and maladaptive associations with adolescent friendship quality. Developmental Psychology, 47, 1153-1166.

Benenson, J., Apostoleris, N., & Parnass, J. (1997). Age and sex differences in dyadic and group interaction. Developmental Psychology, 33, 538-543.

Berndt, T.J., & Perry, T.B. (1986). Children's perceptions of friendships as supportive relationships. Developmental Psychology, 22, 640- 648.

Bowker, A. (2004). Predicting friendship stability during early adolescence. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 24, 85-112.

Bukowski, W.M., Hoza, B., & Boivin, M. (1994). Measuring friendship quality during pre- and early adolescence: The development and psychometric properties of the Friendship Qualities Scale. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 11, 472–484.

Foster, E. (2004). Research on gossip: Taxonomy, methods, and future directions. Review of General Psychology, 8, 78-99.

Gottman, J.M. (1986). The observation of social process. In J.M. Gottman, J.G. Parker (Eds.), Conversations of friends: Speculations on affective development (pp. 51-100). New York, NY US: Cambridge University Press.

Grotpeter, J.K., & Crick, N.R. (1996). Relational aggression, overt aggression, and friendship. Child Development, 67, 2328-2338.

Kuttler, A., Parker, J., & La Greca, A. (2002). Developmental and gender differences in preadolescents' judgments of the veracity of gossip. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Journal of Developmental Psychology, 48, 105-132.

Laursen, B., & Pursell, G. (2009). Conflict in peer relationships. In K.H. Rubin, W.M. Bukowski, B. Laursen (Eds.) , Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 267-286). New York, NY US: Guilford Press.

Leaper, C., & Holliday, H. (1995). Gossip in same-gender and cross-gender friends' conversations. Personal Relationships, 2, 237-246.

Maccoby, E. (1998). The two sexes: Growing up apart, coming together. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

McDonald, K., Putallaz, M., Grimes, C., Kupersmidt, J., & Coie, J. (2007). Girl talk: Gossip, friendship, and sociometric status. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Journal of Developmental Psychology, 53, 381-411.

Parker, J.G., & Asher, S.R. (1993). Friendship and friendship quality in middle childhood: Links with peer group acceptance and feelings of loneliness and social dissatisfaction. Developmental Psychology, 29, 611–621.

Parker, J., & Gottman, J. (1989). Social and emotional development in a relational context: Friendship interaction from early childhood to adolescence. In T.J. Berndt & G.W. Ladd (Eds.), Peer relationships in child development (pp. 95-131). Oxford England: John Wiley & Sons.

Parker, J.G., & Seal J. (1996). Forming, losing, renewing, and replacing friendships: Applying temporal parameters to the assessment of children's friendship experiences. Child Development, 67, 2248-2268.

Selman, R. (1980). The growth of interpersonal understanding: Developmental and clinical analyses. New York: Academic Press.

Simpkins, S., Parke, R., Flyr, M., & Wild, M. (2006). Similarities in children's and early adolescents? Perceptions of friendship qualities across development, gender, and friendship qualities. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 26, 491-508.

Wilkinson, M.J. (1988). The development of children’s gossip. Unpublished master’s thesis. University of Waterloo.