Psychological Science 2018, (3) 579-585 DOI:     ISSN: 0412-1961 CN: 21-1139/TG

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early adolescence, peer victimization, peer rejection, depression, cross-lagged analysis
JI Lin-Qin
YU Chun-Yan
LV Ping
CHEN Liang
Article by Ji,L.Q
Article by Pan,b
Article by Yu,C.Y
Article by Lv,p
Article by Chen,l
Article by Zhang,W.X

Relationship between Peer Rejection, Peer Victimization and Depression in Early Adolescence: A Cross-lagged Analysis


Depression is a commonly mental illness characterized by persistent sad feelings, and is one of the key indicators of internalizing behavior. Most depressive symptoms have their onset in early adolescence, increase and peak in adolescence, and persist to adulthood, which increase the risk of major depressive disorder in adulthood. According to interpersonal risk model, poor peer relationship, including peer rejection and victimization, may contribute to problematic outcomes, such as depressive symptoms. Previous studies revealed that peer rejection had positive associations with depression and related problem behavior, such as loneliness, anxiety, social withdraw, low self-concept, low self-esteem, and so forth. Victimization also had long-term or short-term effect to adolescents’ depression. However, some resent studies failed to support the links between poor peer relations and later depression. Another theory—symptoms-driven model argued that depressive symptoms antecede the development of poor peer relations. The symptoms-driven model was also supported by several recent longitudinal studies. However, most study in this area focus on the detrimental effect of peer relationship to depression, less is known about the effect of depression to peer relationship. Peer rejection and victimization is two co-occurring but different forms of negative peer experience, and highly correlated to each other. Besides, peer victimization can be physical or relational in nature. Precious studies have identified the differential nature of relational versus physical victimization. Relational victimization is more strongly related to depression and internalizing problems than physical victimization. Therefore, it is important to include these three subtypes of negative peer relationship in the statistical models simultaneously to estimate their unique effect, when investigating associations between peer relationship and adolescents’ depression. In summary, the present study was to test the reciprocal associations between three aspects of negative peer relationship (peer rejection, physical and relational victimization) and development of depression. Our model was tested in a large sample of adolescents at 2 waves over the course of 1 year. 1068 adolescents (568 males, mean age 13.22±0.36 years old at wave 1) from 5 middle schools, were investigated. Peer rejection was obtained through peer nomination procedure. Physical and relational victimization were assessed through physical and relational subscales in Multidimensional Peer Victimization scale. The Children’s Depression Inventory-Short Version was administrated to measure depression. All of the measures showed good reliability. The cross-lagged model revealed that (1) significant correlations existed between adolescents’ depression, peer rejection, physical and relational victimization at each waves; (2) adolescents’ depression at time1 predicted later physical and relational victimization, but not peer rejection, and both peer rejection and victimization at wave 1 failed to predict later depression; (3) and there was no gender differences in associations between three types of peer relationship and depression. The results in current study supported symptoms-driven model. That is there was unidirectional association between victimization and depression in early adolescence, and adolescents’ depression led later peer victimization. The results deepen our understanding of peer relationship and depression. The moderating factor in relation between peer relationship and subsequent depression and the mechanism through which depression leads to subsequent peer relationship in adolescence is an important direction for future research. Key Words: early adolescence, peer victimization, peer rejection, depression, cross-lagged analysis

Keywords early adolescence, peer victimization, peer rejection, depression, cross-lagged analysis  
Received 2017-07-25 Revised 2018-01-24 Online: 2018-05-20 
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