Emphasizing the developmental need for positive peer relationships, in this study the authors tested a social-contextual view of the mechanisms and processes by which early adolescents' achievement and peer relationships may be promoted simultaneously. Meta-analysis was used to review 148 independent studies comparing the relative effectiveness of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic goal structures in promoting early adolescents' achievement and positive peer relationships. These studies represented over 8 decades of research on over 17,000 early adolescents from 11 countries and 4 multinational samples. As predicted by social interdependence theory, results indicate that higher achievement and more positive peer relationships were associated with cooperative rather than competitive or individualistic goal structures. Also as predicted, results show that cooperative goal structures were associated with a positive relation between achievement and positive peer relationships. Implications for theory and application are discussed.
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