Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

The roles of social withdrawal, peer rejection, and victimization by peers in predicting loneliness and depressed mood in childhood

  • Michel Boivin (a1), Shelley Hymel (a2) and William M. Bukowski (a3)

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relative contributions of social withdrawal, peer rejection, and victimization by peers in predicting feelings of loneliness and depressed mood over time. According to the proposed model, the feelings of loneliness associated with social withdrawal are mediated by the negative peer experiences (negative peer status and peer victimization) to which withdrawn children are exposed. In predicting depressed mood over time, it was further hypothesized that self-reported loneliness ultimately mediates the subsequent depressed mood associated with withdrawal and negative peer experiences. The study was conducted across 2 consecutive years (Time 1 and Time 2), with children each year nominating peers for peer status, social withdrawal, and victimization measures, and completing self-report measures of loneliness and depressed mood. Fourth- and fifth-grade children participated at Time 1, and children that remained in the same school were again evaluated at Time 2 (N = 567). A series of regression analyses indicated that the postulated sequence of mediations adequately represented the pattern of longitudinal associations between the variables, as well as their pattern of change over time. The contribution of social withdrawal to the prediction of subsequent loneliness was accounted for by the expected pattern of mediations of negative peer experiences. Self-reported loneliness ultimately mediated the subsequent depressed mood associated with withdrawal and negative peer experiences.

Corresponding author
Michel Boivin, Ecole de Psychologie, Pavillon F.A. Savard, Université Laval, Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada, GIK7P4.
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

S. R. Asher & V. A. Wheeler (1985). Children's loneliness: A comparison of rejected and neglected peer status. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53. 500505.

R. M. Baron , & D. A. Kenny (1986). The moderatormediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51. 6, 11731182.

M. Boivin , & G. Bégin (1986). Temporal reliability and validity of three sociometric status assessments with young children. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 18, 167172.

M. Boivin , & G. Bégin (1989). Peer status and selfperception among early elementary school children: The case of the rejected children. Child Development, 60, 591596.

A. H. N. Cillessen , H. W. van Ijzendoorn , C. F. M. van Lieshout , & W. W. Hartup (1992). Heterogeneity among peer-rejected boys: Subtypes and stabilities. Child Development, 63. 893905.

J. D. Coie , J. E. Lochman , R. Terry , & C. Hyman (1992). Predicting early adolescent disorder from childhood aggression and peer rejection. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60, 783792.

N. R. Crick , & G. W. Ladd (1993). Children's perceptions of their peer experiences: Attributions, loneliness, social anxiety, and social avoidance. Developmental Psychology, 29, 244254.

D. C. French (1988). Heterogeneity of peer-rejected boys: Aggressive and non-aggressive types. Child Development, 59, 976985.

S. Hymel , A. Bowker , & E. Woody (1993). Aggressive versus withdrawn unpopular children: Variations in peer, teacher and self perceptions in multiple domains. Child Development, 64, 879896.

S. Hymel , K. H. Rubin , L. Rowden , & L. LeMare (1990). Children's peer relationships: Longitudinal prediction of internalizing and externalizing problems from middle to late childhood. Child Development, 61, 20042021.

A. Masten , P. Morison , & D. Pelligrini (1985). A revised class play method of peer assessment. Developmental Psychology, 21, 523533.

J. G. Parker , & S. R. Asher (1987). Peer relations and later personal adjustment: Are low-accepted children at risk. Psychological Bulletin, 102, 289357.

J. T. Parkhurst , & S. R. Asher (1992). Peer rejection in middle school: Subgroup differences in behavior, loneliness, and interpersonal concerns. Developmental Psychology, 28, 2, 231241.

G. J. Patterson , J. B. Kupersmidt , & P. C. Griesler (1990). Children's perceptions of self and of relations with others as a function of sociometric status. Child Development, 61, 13351349.

G. D. Perry , S. J. Kusel , & L. L. Perry (1988). Victims of peer aggression. Developmental Psychology, 24, 807814.

A. W. Pope , K. L. Bierman , & G. H. Mumma (1991). Aggression, hyperactivity, and inattentionimmaturity: Behavior dimensions associated with peer rejection in elementary school boys. Developmental Psychology, 27, 661671.

P. D. Renshaw , & P. J. Brown (1993). Loneliness in middle childhood: Concurrent and longitudinal predictors. Child Development, 64, 12711284.

K. H. Rubin , S. Hymel , L. LeMare , & L. Rowden (1989). Children experiencing social difficulties: Sociometric neglect reconsidered. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 21, 94111.

C. F. Saylor , A. J. Finch , W. Furey , C. H. Baskin , & M. M. Kelly (1984). Construct validity for measures of childhood depression: Application of multitrait-multimethod methodology. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 52, 977985.

A. J. Younger , & K. A. Boyko (1987). Aggression and withdrawal as social schemas underlying children's peer perceptions. Child Development, 58, 10941100.

A. Younger , & T. Daniels (1992). Childrens' peer nominations for withdrawal: What are the reasons for their choices? Developmental Psychology, 28, 5, 955960.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *