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Depression as a longitudinal outcome and antecedent of preadolescents' peer relationships and peer-relevant cognition

  • Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck (a1), Tracey A. Hunter (a1), Allison M. Waters (a1) and Rhiarne Pronk (a1)


Using longitudinal data and structural modeling, we investigated bidirectional associations among preadolescents' peer relationships, peer-relevant cognition, and depressive symptoms. Depression was expected to be an outcome and precursor of peer-relevant cognition, and cognition was expected to be an outcome and precursor of being more or less liked by classmates (peer likeability). We also examined whether cognition mediated the association between peer likeability and depression. Participants were 308 students (mean age = 11.0, SD = 0.9) who participated twice during a school year. A third assessment was completed with Grade 5 to 6 students 1 year after the second assessment. The model with bidirectional paths had a good fit to the data, but the most parsimonious model was an “effects” model showing that preadolescents with more depressive symptoms had less positive peer-relevant cognition at later assessments, and that those with more positive peer-relevant cognition were more liked by their peers over time. There were no age differences, some gender differences, and no support for cognition as a moderator of the association between depression and peer likeability.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck, School of Psychology, Griffith University–Gold Coast Campus, Private Mail Bag 50 GCMC, Southport, Queensland 9726, Australia; E-mail:


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