Publication Date

2009-04-26

Availability

Open access

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2008-09-12

First Committee Member

Annette M. La Greca - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Heather Henderson - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Neena M. Malik - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Susan K. Dandes - Committee Member

Fifth Committee Member

Biing-Jiun Shen - Committee Member

Abstract

During adolescence, peer relationships become increasingly important in various aspects of development, such as self-esteem and emotional adjustment. Unfortunately, a number of adolescents experience peer victimization, placing them at increased risk of emotional and behavioral problems. Research has consistently demonstrated the link between peer victimization and poor outcomes. However, exploration of the mechanisms underlying this link, including potential buffers of negative outcomes, is needed. The current study examined social support as a moderator of the relationship between peer victimization and maladjustment in order to assess whether social support from adults and peers protects adolescents from developing emotional and/or behavioral problems. The current study also examined disclosure of victimization to explore the role of a specific type of enacted social support in the link between peer victimization and poor outcomes. Adolescents (N = 633) in grades 10 through 12 completed a background questionnaire, the Revised Peer Experiences Questionnaire, the Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale, the Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents, and the Youth Self-Report. Regression analyses were used to evaluate social support as a moderator of the relationship between peer victimization and internalizing and externalizing behaviors and to explore the role of disclosure. Overall, peer victimization predicted higher levels of social anxiety, anxiety/depression, and aggressive and delinquent behaviors. Strength and direction of moderation effects varied according to the type of peer victimization and source of social support and type of disclosure. The results of this study further our understanding of mechanisms underlying the link between peer victimization and maladjustment and can be used to inform prevention and intervention efforts.

Keywords

Peer Victimization; Bullying; Social Support; Disclosure; Peer Relations; Adolescents; Support Seeking; Friendship; Adult Support; Peer Support

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