As a part of the study into children's peer relationships, researchers observed 97 students in six preschool classrooms in an urban southwest area of the United States.
Using a new quantitative procedure called the Q-connectivity method, the boffins repeatedly assessed kids' peer interactions to determine how many peers the children interacted with and how often those interactions took place.
They did this to study the relationship between children's ability to establish and maintain relationships with peers and their tendency to display physical aggression, anger, and attention problems.
Based on the data collected, the authors state that aggressive, angry, and inattentive children tended to play with fewer peers repeatedly over time than their non-aggressive classmates, who were more successful at interacting frequently with many classmates over time.
The study, the researchers state, is important as it suggests that as early as preschool, aggressive children have less consistent relationships with their peers.
It appears in the July/August 2008 issue of the journal Child Development.