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Ghosts of the past?

Transmission of child and adolescent peer experiences across social contexts and generations
PhD ceremony:M. (Maria) Wiertsema, MSc
When:April 04, 2024
Supervisor:prof. dr. T. (Tina) Kretschmer
Co-supervisors:dr. R. (Rozemarijn) van der Ploeg, dr. C. (Charlotte) Vrijen
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Ghosts of the past?

Are peer experiences in childhood and adolescence linked to difficulties with social interactions and within relationships later in life? This dissertation explored whether and how past peer experiences affect social development. We have done this by not only focusing on social development within the same generation, but also in the next generation.An important finding of this dissertation is that experiences with peers during childhood and adolescence appear to continue into later life. Meta-analytic evidence, for example, indicated that bullies became more popular over time but were also more rejected and less socially preferred. Do past experiences with peers also partly determine how parents raise their children? We found that parents’ past victimisation experiences were linked to parenting behaviour and parental self-perceptions, but links were not very strong. More socially competent parents tended to have a better bond with their child about twenty years later, but there is no evidence that parents’ peer aggression predicted harsh parenting later on.Are parents’ peer experiences from the past associated with those of their children? Parental social competence in early adolescence did not seem to be passed on to their children. Whereas we found that aggressive behaviour towards peers was directly passed on to the next generation – especially when assessed in the same developmental period for both generations.

All in all, the findings of this dissertation indicate the relevance of further exploring how traits and experiences in childhood and adolescence affect social development, not only within the same generation but also across generations.