Twenty years' research on peer victimization and psychosocial maladjustment: a meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2000 May;41(4):441-55.


Cross-sectional quantitative designs are often used to investigate whether peer victimization is positively related to psychosocial maladjustment. This paper presents a meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies, published between 1978 and 1997, of the association of peer victimization with psychosocial maladjustment. Mean effect sizes were calculated for the association between peer victimization and each form of maladjustment (depression, loneliness, generalized and social anxiety, and global and social self-worth) assessed. The results suggested that victimization is most strongly related to depression, and least strongly related to anxiety. There was no evidence that victimization is more strongly related to social than to psychological forms of maladjustment. Effect sizes were stronger when the same informants were used to assess both victimization and maladjustment than when different informants were used. There were some design limitations to the studies reviewed, but all together their results provide a strong background for more complex research into the course and treatment of victims' distress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Crime Victims*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • General Adaptation Syndrome
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Peer Group*
  • Social Adjustment*