Peer rejection and social information-processing factors in the development of aggressive behavior problems in children

Child Dev. Mar-Apr 2003;74(2):374-93. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.7402004.


The relation between social rejection and growth in antisocial behavior was investigated. In Study 1,259 boys and girls (34% African American) were followed from Grades 1 to 3 (ages 6-8 years) to Grades 5 to 7 (ages 10-12 years). Early peer rejection predicted growth in aggression. In Study 2,585 boys and girls (16% African American) were followed from kindergarten to Grade 3 (ages 5-8 years), and findings were replicated. Furthermore, early aggression moderated the effect of rejection, such that rejection exacerbated antisocial development only among children initially disposed toward aggression. In Study 3, social information-processing patterns measured in Study 1 were found to mediate partially the effect of early rejection on later aggression. In Study 4, processing patterns measured in Study 2 replicated the mediation effect. Findings are integrated into a recursive model of antisocial development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Rejection, Psychology*
  • Social Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Social Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Social Perception*