Building integrated peer relationships in preschool classrooms: The potential of buddies

Laura D. Hanish, Carol Lynn Martin, Rachel Cook, Dawn DeLay, Bridget Lecheile, Richard A. Fabes, Priscilla Goble, Crystal Bryce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We tested an easy-to-implement, theoretically-grounded Buddy Up intervention designed to help preschoolers engage with diverse peers. Using naturalistic observation procedures, independent observers coded children's (N = 137) peer experiences in preschool classrooms. Findings revealed an intervention effect on time spent with peers for boys only, such that boys in the intervention condition maintained their engagement with peers whereas boys in the control condition declined in social play over time. Moreover, for both boys and girls, participation in Buddy Up appeared to increase their play with peers with whom they had not previously played and mitigate declines in play with other-gender peers. These effects did not occur at the expense of playing with same-gender peers. Findings speak to the potential of a Buddy Up intervention for building inclusive classroom peer relationships and support a novel application of Intergroup Contact Theory in promoting gender-inclusive relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101257
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Gender
  • Intergroup Contact Theory
  • Intervention
  • Peer Relationships
  • Preschool

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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