Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University Bulletin, 2018, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 26–42

Concepts of friendship among primary school children with intellectual disability

Zashchirinskaia O. 1 (Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation), Lapteva A. V. 1 (Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation), Nikolaeva E. I. 2 (Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation), Medina Bracamonte N. 1 (Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation), Zmanovskaya E. V. 3 (Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation)
1 Saint-Petersburg State University
2 Herzen State Pedagogical University
3 Nikiforov Russian Center of Emergency and Radiation Medicine, EMERCOM of Russia

Introduction. The problem raised in the article is to analyze the internal models created by children in the perception of the social world, in particular, friendships. The aim of this research is to study the conceptualization of the phenomenon of friendship by primary school children with intellectual disability.
Materials and Methods. The study involved children of primary school aged 9–11 years. The experimental groups were diagnosed with «mixed specific developmental disorders» and «mild mental retardation». The authors employed the following research methods: a standardized interview, sociometry, “relationships with close people” questionnaire, “perceptions of friendship” questionnaire, incomplete sentences; projective methods (drawing and essay on the topic “My friend”).
Results. On the basis of factor analysis, the authors have identified three main factors which describe the main concepts of friendship: the nature of relationships, the motivation for choosing a friend, and the image of a friend. The results of a comparative analysis indicate that the internal concepts of the phenomenon of friendship of children with intellectual disability differ from normatively developing peers by violating abstraction and are associated with the reflection of concrete facts from personal life experience.
Conclusions. All the data indicate that the domestic concept of the phenomenon of friendship in children with intellectual disability are poorly abstracted, tied to specific events and phenomena. The features revealed in the course of the present experimental study are evidence of the immature nature of the mental model in children with intellectual disability, which causes difficulties in the adequate conceptualization of the phenomenon of friendship.


Concept; Friendship; Intellectual disabilities; Interpersonal communication; Junior school children; Mental model; Conceptualization of the friendship phenomenon

93.640 Imitation | Informants | Preschool Children

Concepts of friendship among primary school children with intellectual disability

For citation:
Zashchirinskaia O., Lapteva A. V., Nikolaeva E. I., Medina Bracamonte N., Zmanovskaya E. V. Concepts of friendship among primary school children with intellectual disability. Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University Bulletin, 2018, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 26–42. DOI:
  1. Zashchirinskaja O. V. Modern research on non-verbal communications of mentally retarded children. Journal of Saint Petersburg University Sociology, 2008, no. 1, pp. 228–237. (In Russian) URL:
  2. Zashchirinskaya O. V., Lapteva A. V. Specificity of ideas about friendship among younger schoolchildren with intellectual disabilities. Scientific Opinion, 2017, no. 7-8, pp. 74–79. (In Russian) URL:
  3. Nikolaeva E. I. Metacognitive competence – what's the problem? Bulletin of Practical Psychology, 2012, no. 3, pp. 34–38. (In Russian) URL:
  4. Rybnikov V. Y., Zashchirinskaya O. V. Phenomenology of the age patterns of socialization disorders in children and adolescents with mild mental retardation. Bulletin of Psychotherapy, 2013, no. 47, pp. 71–85. (In Russian) URL:
  5. Sergienko E. A. Realization of the principle of development in the psychology of subject. Psychological Journal, 2017, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 5–18. (In Russian) URL:
  6. Savateeva A. L., Tishinova E. A., Tikhomirova L. F. Inclusive and Integrated Training of Children with Moderate and Heavy Mental Retardation in a Special Educational Institution. Yaroslavl Pedagogical Bulletin, 2017, no. 4, pp. 122–125. (In Russian) URL:
  7. Bering J. M., Parker B. D. Children’s attributions of intentions to an invisible agent. Developmental Psychology, 2006, vol. 42 (2), pp. 253–262. DOI:
  8. Carey S. The Origin of Concepts. Journal of Cognition and Development, 2000, vol. 1, issue 1, pp. 37–41. DOI:
  9. Carter C., Nutbrown C. A Pedagogy of Friendship: young children’s friendships and how schools can support them. International Journal of Early Years Education, 2016, vol. 24, issue 4, pp. 395–413. DOI:
  10. Garon N., Smith I. M., Bryson S. E. A novel executive function battery for preschoolers: sensitivity to age differences. Child Neuropsychology, 2014, vol. 20, issue 6, pp. 713–736. DOI:
  11. Ojalehto B. L., Medin D. L. Perspectives on Culture and Concepts. Annual Review of Psychology, 2015, vol. 66, pp. 249–275. DOI:
  12. Gergely G., Egyed K., Kiraly I. On pedagogy. Developmental Science, 2007, vol. 10, issue 1, pp. 139–146. DOI:
  13. Heyes C. Who Knows? Metacognitive Social Learning Strategies. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2016, vol. 20, issue 3, pp. 204–213.  DOI:
  14. Heyman G. D., Fu G., Lee K. Evaluating claims people make about themselves: the development of skepticism. Child Development, 2007, vol. 78, issue 2, pp. 367–375. DOI:  
  15. Jaswal V. K., Markman E. M. Looks aren’t everything: 24-month-olds’ willingness to accept unexpected labels. Journal of Cognition and Development, 2007, vol. 8, issue 1, pp. 93–111. DOI:
  16. Kumari R., Tiwari M., Agrawal A., Upadhyaya O. P. The Chromosomal & Molecular Aspect of Mental Retardation: A Review. Indo Global Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2014, vol. 4, issue 2, pp. 123–127.
  17. Lodder G. M. A., Scholte R. H. J., Goossens L., Verhagen M. Loneliness in early adolescence: Friendship quantity, friendship quality, and dyadic processes. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 2017, vol. 46, issue 5, pp. 709–720. DOI:
  18. Martinez-Badía J., Martinez-Raga J. Who says this is a modern disorder? The early history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. World Journal of Psychiatry, 2015, vol. 5 (4), pp. 379–386. DOI:
  19. Mayer A., Träuble B. E. Synchrony in the onset of mental state understanding across cultures? A study among children in Samoa. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 2013, vol. 37, issue 1, pp. 21–28. DOI:
  20. McGuigan N. The influence of model status on the tendency of young children to over-imitate. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 2013, vol. 116, issue 4, pp. 962–969. DOI:
  21. Nouwens P. J. G., Lucas R., Smulders N. B. M., Embregts P. J. C. M., van Nieuwenhuizen C. Identifying classes of persons with mild intellectual disability or borderline intellectual functioning: a latent class analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 2017, vol. 17, pp. 257. DOI:
  22. Schulz L. E., Bonawitz E. B., Griffiths T. L. Can being scared cause tummy aches? Naive theories, ambiguous evidence, and preschoolers’ causal inference. Developmental Psychology, 2007, vol. 43  (5), pp. 1124–1139. DOI:  
  23. Sijtsema J. J. Preadolescents and their friends: Similarity in aggression and depressive problems as a function of social status and friendship reciprocity. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 2016, vol. 40, issue 6, pp. 565–576. DOI:
  24. Spackman R., Toogood H., Kerridge J., Nash J., Anderson E., Rai D. Trainee experiences of intellectual disability psychiatry and an innovative leaderless support group: a qualitative study. BJPsych Bulletin, 2017, vol. 41, issue 4, pp. 228–233. DOI:
  25. Vukatana E., Graham S. A., Curtin S., Zepeda M. S. One is not enough: multiple exemplars facilitate infants' generalizations of novel properties. Infancy, 2015, vol. 20, issue 5, pp. 548–575. DOI:
Date of the publication 30.04.2018