Group cohesiveness in children free‐play activity: A social network analysis

Paula Lira, Christina Moretti, Danilo Guimarães, Briseida Resende
Published Online:
12 May 2021
Volume/Issue No:
Early View Articles

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Despite the ethnic diversity and presence of Amerindian communities in all Brazilian states, the indigenous population suffers from a long process of invisibility and stereotyping. Aiming to increase interethnic associations, together with Mbya‐Guarani leaders we promoted interventions in which indigenous and non‐indigenous children shared free playtime. We hypothesised that free play activity would stimulate group cohesiveness, mitigating ethnic group avoidance in children's playgroups. Twenty‐one Mbya‐Guarani and 61 non‐indigenous children participated in two “Encounters for Play.” We recorded children's social interactions during the free playtimes. We selected the first and last 10 minutes of each encounter and performed scans every 30s registering spatial proximity (children who were up to 1 m of each other) and play. Then, we applied Social Network Analysis to explore the children's association pattern at the beginning and end of playtime in each encounter. Our results show free play activity was effective in stimulating group cohesiveness. Children' proximity association pattern and playgroup configuration changed between clips, and there was a significant correlation between both categories' associations. We conclude that the encounters have potential applicability as an intervention to mitigate ethnic group avoidance in children.

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