Development and Psychopathology

Research Article

Children's social competence and sociometric status: Further exploration of aggression, social withdrawal, and peer rejection

Brenda L. Vollinga1 c1, Carol Mackinnon-Lewisa2 c1, David Rabinera2 and Laila P. Baradarana2

a1 The University of Michigan

a2 The University of North Carolina at Greensboro


Sociometric status differences in children's social competence were examined in a sample of elementary school-aged children using teacher ratings and peer nominations. Rejected children evinced significantly fewer competencies (e.g., peer group entry, responses to provocation) than popular, average, or neglected children but differed from controversial children only with respect to their inability to meet established social norms for cooperative behavior and teachers' expectations for classroom behavior. An examination of the heterogeneity of peer-rejected children revealed that rejected-aggressive children were deficient in all aspects of social competence assessed and were most disliked by their peers. Rejected-withdrawn children were seen by peers as most unhappy, whereas rejected-undifferentiated children (i.e., rejected children who were neither highly aggressive nor highly withdrawn) had problems with social withdrawal, disruptive behavior, and socially appropriate behavior. Rejected-aggressive and rejected-withdrawn children had more difficulties with reactive aggression combined with an inability to respond positively to peers than their nonrejected agemates. The need for further research on the heterogeneity of peer-rejected children and the long-term implications for these children are discussed.


c1 Address reprint requests to: Brenda L. Volling, The University of Michigan, Department of Psychology, 3433 Mason Hall, Ann Arbor,. MI 48109; or Carol MacKinnon-Lewis, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Family Research Center, 214, McIver Street, Greensboro, NC 27412.