Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

White, Karen J.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Child psychology; Social isolation--Psychological aspects


Developmental psychopathology models of pathways leading to internalizing and externalizing problems in children have proposed that subtypes of social isolation relate to differential psychological adjustment and that cognitive and/or social influences impact those relationships. Research on concurrent relationships between subtypes of social isolation (passive withdrawal and active isolation) and psychological adjustment and on associated cognitive and social influences is needed. Two models of interrelationships among social isolation subtypes (passive withdrawal and active isolation), peer acceptance, cognitions (perceived self-competence and attributional style), and psychological adjustment (internalizing and externalizing problems) in late elementary school children were evaluated and compared using structural equation modeling (SEM). Peer-rated measures of students’ social behaviors and peer acceptance, selfrated measures of perceived self-competence, attributional style, anxiety and depression, and teacher-rated measures of students’ social behaviors, peer acceptance, and internalizing and externalizing problems were collected ( N — 514). SEM results (n = 466) generally supported the model in which 1) the concurrent relationship between passive withdrawal and internalizing problems was hypothesized to be influenced by peer acceptance and perceived self-competence, and 2) the concurrent relationship between active isolation and externalizing problems was hypothesized to be influenced by peer acceptance. However, suppression effects made interpretation difficult. Additional hierarchical regression analyses were conducted on subsets of the supported model to evaluate relationships. Social and cognitive influences on the relationship between passive withdrawal and self-reported internalizing problems varied according to problem type (e.g., depression or anxiety). For depression, peer acceptance mediated between passive withdrawal and depression, and perceived self-competence’s role was more complex and affected by a suppression effect. For anxiety, peer acceptance indirectly affected anxiety via perceived self-competence while perceived self-competence partially mediated between passive withdrawal and anxiety. Social versus cognitive variables were influential in predicting externalizing problems from active isolation. In addition to finding unique patterns of influence for how subtypes of isolation relate to psychological adjustment, results indicated a need for further construct validation of children’s social isolation subtypes and sociometry in late elementary school. Results also indicated a need to assess children’s self-perspectives of internalizing symptoms independently when assessing risk related to passive withdrawal.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [283]-295).


xiii, 362 pages




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