The term cliques refers to clusters of children and adolescents whose mutual friendships form a cohesive network. By middle childhood, clique boundaries can be defined by identifying groups of children who all reciprocally and mutually nominate one another as close friends. Cliques can play an important role in psychological adjustment. The presence of reciprocal friendships is associated with adaptive social development and healthy psychological functioning. Similarly, the quality of children's friendships within a clique, including the level of companionship, intimacy, reliable alliance, instrumental aid, and conflict with a friend, for example, is associated with concurrent and future psychological health. Children's engagement in specific prosocial or risk-taking/deviant behaviors is also strongly associated with the behavior of their closest friends. Not only do children and adolescents appear to select their friends based in part on these similar attributes and behavioral styles, but the relationships can then lead to increases in the frequency of each child's specific behaviors during the course of the friendship.
See also: FRIENDSHIP
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