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Peer Relationships And The Development Of Psychopathology

Sophia Choukas-Bradley, M. Prinstein
Published 2014 · Psychology

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Merely a half century ago, research examining contextual correlates of youth psychopathology focused almost exclusively on parental factors (Hartup, 1970). Several influential initial studies revealed that children and young adults experiencing significant emotional difficulties could be identified by their troubling experiences with peers earlier in childhood (e.g., Roff, 1961). Soon after, follow-forward studies revealed that children who were disliked by their peers appeared to be at greater risk for a host of later negative outcomes, including delinquent or criminal activity and various symptoms of psychopathology (e.g., Coie, Terry, Lenox, Lochman, & Hyman, 1995). These findings contributed to an emphasis on understanding how children’s peer status, or acceptance/rejection among peers, may be associated with later psychopathology. Over time, researchers began to take interest in developmental antecedents or determinants of children’s peer status and in more broadly understanding the nature of early childhood peer experiences. Soon, an awareness of other types of peer relationships began to dominate researchers’ interest. For instance, studies revealed that youths’ success in dyadic relationships was orthogonal to their status within the overall peer group (Hartup, 1996). Children’s formation, maintenance, and quality of friendships soon became a focus of research; associations among aspects of friendships and adjustment also proliferated.
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