Evaluate the usefulness of Bigelow and La Gaipa’s (1975) work for understanding children’s friendship’

One of the most prominent exploration about children’s understanding of
friendship
was conducted by Brian Bigelow and John La
Gaipa
in the 1970’s.
Friendship
is seen differently in children, especially the younger ones, as they grow older children becomes more complex as well as the meaning of
friendship
.
This
essay will
first
outline Bigelow and La
Gaipa
(1975)
study
on understanding children’s
friendship
.
Secondly
, it will outline the approach of their
study
looking at the
research
method they used.
Lastly
, it will attempt to evaluate the usefulness of their work and look as well as providing an overview on the influence of culture to the children’s relationship of
friendship
.
Finally
, it will provide a short summary of the points made and it will attempt to conclude the usefulness of the
study
. Understanding
friendship
with young people is more complex than just defining what the concept means. As they mature, the qualities on a search for a friend becomes more profound. At that time it was an under-
research
Suggestion
researched
issue in Psychology. Bigelow and La
Gaipa
(1975) used an unconventional
research
approach to other previous
research
studies,
instead
of doing observations or administering questionnaires they collected their data in written form.
Initially
, the focus of Bigelow and La
Gaipa
(1975)
research
was to understand children’s emotional relationship and what attracts them from one another (Brownlow, C., 2012). In order to understand the idea, the two researchers looked at the distinction of
friendship
on several stages of child development. They collected a large sample of 480 written essays from sixty children (30 girls and 30 boys) between six and fourteen years from upper-working class and lower-middle class homes in Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Brownlow, C., 2012,
p
. 242). The
importance
of doing it
this
way is because children, especially the young ones are able to express themselves better in writing form than expressing themselves out loud. Before they started their investigation, they came up with a list of twenty-one
friendship
expectations. The gathered data was qualitative in nature. In order to assess the details, they used Content Analysis which was used to examine written, audio, visual materials that identify and counts the significant information that was useful in answering a query (Brownlow, 2012,
p
.243).
This
was done to count the occurrence of each expectation which was
also
referred to as frequency count.
Moreover
, the researchers were able to transform the qualitative data into quantitative data through frequency counts (Brownlow, 2012,
p
. 245). Interestingly, Bigelow and La
Gaipa
(1975) found some important differences in the children’s expectations of
friendship
. Sixteen out of the original twenty-one expectations were more persistent based on the older children’s description
in contrast
to the younger ones (Brownlow, 2012,
p
. 243).
This
indicates that the children’s expectations of a best friend become more sophisticated as they mature.
Then
, they were able to compare the written essays to their list and used frequency counts to look for patterns in their data that would be useful in understanding about the changing nature of
friendship
in children. Not only that, they were
also
able to compare the samples in order to see the differences between boys and girls as well as younger and older children. They found that in general,
by comparison
of gender the difference is insignificant.
For example
, in an organised play boys tend to have more expectations than girls (Brownlow, 2012,
p
.244). Philip Erwin (1988) noted that as children mature the
importance
of
friendship
changes. He
also
argued that peers act as a powerful source of support for them cited in (Brownlow, 2012, pp. 240-241) while younger children mostly rely on parents for support and guidance,
this
is true on most occasions as parents are their
first
contact for help and comfort. Bigelow and La
Gaipa
(1975) proposed a three-
stage
model of development of
friendship
expectations. The
first
stage
looks at the significance of shared activities
such
as sports (for boys), the possibility of interacting with each other,
such
as hanging out at the park or each other’s houses, so geographically closeness is very important. *An example of
this
can be found on the teenagers discussion on
friendship
, one of the teenagers said that he wouldn’t necessarily hang out with the people he doesn’t see very often so he doesn’t consider them as best mates (The Open University, 2019) *. The
second
stage
focuses on the transition of individual needs
such
as sharing confidential information about themselves, loyalty and commitment to each other. At
this
point they were able to make judgement on the level of
friendship
they will have. The
third
stage
emphasizes the
importance
of commonness in attitudes, values and interests and the possibility of starting an intimate relationship as well as confiding. Children at
this
stage
have a very specific criteria in acknowledging a best friend. Listening to the teenagers discussion online, teenager 1 said that he wouldn’t necessarily confide in someone who he doesn’t know well enough like someone at college (The Open University, 2019). Obviously, the level of
friendship
is different at
this
point, the best mates are the ones he can confide in and hang out more often as opposed to the ones that just say hi every now and
then
. Bigelow and La
Gaipa
’s (1975)
research
helped gain an insight on understanding what the meaning of
friendship
for children really means.
Furthermore
, it supplied evidence regarding the children’s
friendship
and how it becomes more complex as they grow older. Their decision to transform data from qualitative to quantitative data raised some questions
such
as preservation of the children’s accounts and the possibility of doing it differently without losing more details.
However
, It is important to remember that they came up with predetermined
friendship
expectations that were later used for comparison rather than individualised features.
Moreover
, they wanted to make generalisations about children’s
friendship
and develop a model that could be used in the wider population. It is
also
possible that there were some expectations that they might have missed
such
as the influence of culture in children’s expectations of
friendship
. One advantage of using
this
technique is that it illustrates how to transform a large sample of qualitative data to quantitative data using content analysis. In conclusion, the work of Bigelow and La
Gaipa
(1975) has shown
importance
in understanding the changing nature of
friendship
in children through the three-
stage
model of development in
friendship
expectations they develop using content analysis. Their contribution to
research
methods has been very useful and influential because it introduced the concept to the
research
on children’s relationships. Their
research
study
of children raised some questions on accuracy and reliability,
however
, with the evidence they provided they were able to prove that the purpose of
this
method was to make generalisations
therefore
it can be used in a wider population.
Submitted by kamillecarlaolit on

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