A Longitudinal Examination of Popularity and Friendship Quality as Predictors of Depression in School Children from Fall to Spring
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Human Development and Family Science
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Although researchers have established the significant role children’s peer relationships have on their socioemotional functioning, missing from the literature is an understanding of the subsequent effects popularity has on children’s depressive symptomology. This study utilized existing data from a longitudinal study taking place during the fall and spring of children’s third and fourth grade year (N = 366; Mage = 9.34 years; 196 girls) and tested a moderated mediation model to examine the indirect effects of popularity on depression through friendship quality. The interaction between popularity and relational characteristics including prosocial and relationally aggressive behaviors was also included in the prediction of friendship quality to determine whether the implications of popularity for depression depend on a child’s behavioral profile. Findings indicated a stronger positive association between popularity and received provisions at higher levels of relational aggression in addition to a stronger association with received provisions and being treated less meanly at lower levels of prosocial behavior. The findings also revealed popularity was predictive of lower levels of depression through more recieved provisions and less treated meanly for those demonstrating low levels of prosocial behavior and high levels of relational aggression, but only for girls. The current study contributes an increased understanding of some of the protective measures popularity serves against depression for children by having higher quality friendships, while also emphasizing potential risk factors associated with being low in popularity for children who are low in prosocial behavior and high in aggression. Implications regarding the potential protective measures of being popular against development of depressive symptoms through having higher quality friendships are discussed.