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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)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2009

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social withdrawal are mediated by the negative peer experiences (negative peer status and peer victimization) to which withdrawn children are exposed.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.
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Development and Psychopathology
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