Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 16, Iss. 3, July, 2012, pp. 293-312
@2012 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Affective Dynamics in Triadic Peer Interactions in Early Childhood

Lindsay A. Lavictoire, Queen”s University, Kingston, ON, Canada
James Snyder, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS
Mike Stoolmiller, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Tom Hollenstein, Queen”s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

Abstract: In interpersonal interaction research, moving beyond dyadic to triadic dynamics can be analytically daunting. We explored the affective states expressed during triadic peer interactions to understand how patterns were associated with childhood psychopathology and sociometric status. High-risk kindergarten children (N = 216) were observed in several groups of three during a free play task. We extended the state space grid technique to 3-dimensional analysis in order to derive variables of interest. Unlike results from parent-child dyadic interactions, triadic affective variability was not strongly associated with externalizing or internalizing problems. However, several triadic affective states were distinguished by externalizing, internalizing, and sociometric status, most commonly mutually aversive affect. Strengths and limitations of this methodology in relation to understanding peer triadic interactions are discussed.

Keywords: state space grids, triads, peer interactions, affect, externalizing, internalizing, sociometric status