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Child Dev. 2011 Sep-Oct;82(5):1434-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01632.x. Epub 2011 Aug 29.

Characterizing and comparing the friendships of anxious-solitary and unsociable preadolescents.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-3701, USA.


Friendships matter for withdrawn youth because the consequences of peer isolation are severe. From a normative sample of 2,437 fifth graders (1,245 females; M age = 10.25), a subset (n = 1,364; 638 female) was classified into 3 groups (anxious-solitary, unsociable, comparison) and followed across a school year. Findings indicated that it was more common for unsociable than anxious-solitary children to have friends, be stably friended, and participate in multiple friendships. For withdrawn as well as nonwithdrawn children, peer rejection predicted friendlessness, but this relation was strongest for anxious-solitary children. The friends of unsociable youth were more accepted by peers than those of anxious-solitary youth. The premise that friendship inhibits peer victimization was substantiated for withdrawn as well as nonwithdrawn youth.

© 2011 The Authors. Child Development © 2011 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.

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