Peer Group Based Day Care in Childhood Predicts Sociability and Perceived Social Support in Adulthood in the 27-Year Prospective Young Finns Study

[Speaker] Oksman, Elli:1
[Co-author] Rosenström, Tom:1, Hintsanen, Mirka:1,2, Hutri Kähönen, Nina:3,4, Viikari, Jorma:5,6, Raitakari, Olli:7,8, Keltikangas Järvinen, Liisa:1
1:Unit of Personality, Work, and Health Psychology, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki (Finland), 2:Unit of Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Oulu (Finland), 3:Department of Pediatrics, University of Tampere (Finland), 4:Tampere University Hospital, Tampere (Finland), 5:Department of Medicine, University of Turku (Finland), 6:Division of Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Turku (Finland), 7:Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku (Finland), 8:Departments of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Turku (Finland)

While associations between day care and individual development have been reported, there is a lack of longitudinal studies on how this early social environment may have an effect in adulthood. We investigated whether the peer group size to which a child was exposed in toddlerhood (ages 2-3) and/or in middle childhood (ages 5-6) within child care predicts differences in self-reported sociability and perceived social support in adulthood (ages 20-30) in a population-based sample (N=577). Our results showed that exposure to large peer groups (center-based day care) in middle childhood predicted higher adulthood sociability compared to those who were in home care. When the analysis was controlled for the care context in toddlerhood, group-based care in middle childhood also increased perceived social support in adulthood. The associations were adjusted for several environmental and within-individual variables. The findings are discussed in regards to developmental differences in preparedness for peer interactions in childhood.
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