Social Network Dynamics and Social Development among Preschoolers (2021-2022)

The first five years of life are a period of rapid development for social skills and brain function. However, there has been a paucity of data available to inform our understanding of early social development. 

This project builds on a multiyear effort to collect and analyze social network data to help illuminate how sociality and social cohesion develop among young children. Through noninvasive video recording of daily classroom behaviors of preschoolers, the team analyzed patterns of cooperation and conflict among children in natural states of play to examine how children learn the “rules” of being social. 

The ultimate goal of this longitudinal study is to examine how early childhood social interaction affects long-term physical and mental health outcomes.

Learn more about this project team by viewing the team's video.


Fall 2021 – Spring 2022

Team Outputs

Playing by the Rules: Early Childhood Social Development (2022 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Social Network Dynamics and Social Development among Preschoolers (poster by Ava Raffel, Carrie Wang, Elissa Harris, Jaden Snyder, Kelsey Zhong, Mihika Rajvanshi, Rhayoung Park, Tom Wolff, Margaret O'Brien, Michael S. Gaffrey and Craig Rawlings, presented at Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 13, 2022)

This Team in the News

Meet the Members of the 2021-2022 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See earlier related team, Social Network Dynamics and Social Development Among Preschoolers (2020-2021).


Image: Preschool programs, by Seattle Parks, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Children playing.

Team Leaders

  • Michael Gaffrey, Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Craig Rawlings, Arts & Sciences-Sociology

/graduate Team Members

  • Rhayoung Park, Interdisciplinary Data Science - Masters
  • Thomas Wolff, Sociology-AM, Sociology-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Elissa Harris, Psychology (BS)
  • Ava Raffel, Psychology (BS)
  • Mihika Rajvanshi, Interdepartmental
  • Jaden Snyder, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Carrie Wang, Statistical Science (BS)
  • Kelsey Zhong, Psychology (BS)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • The Little School of Duke
  • The Little School of Hillsborough