This study tested a developmental cascade model of peer rejection, social information processing (SIP), and aggression using data from 585 children assessed at 12 time points from kindergarten through Grade 3. Peer rejection had direct effects on subsequent SIP problems and aggression. SIP had direct effects on subsequent peer rejection and aggression. Aggression had direct effects on subsequent peer rejection. Each construct also had indirect effects on each of the other constructs. These findings advance the literature beyond a simple mediation approach by demonstrating how each construct effects changes in the others in a snowballing cycle over time. The progressions of SIP problems and aggression cascaded through lower liking, and both better SIP skills and lower aggression facilitated the progress of social preference. Findings are discussed in terms of the dynamic, developmental relations among social environments, cognitions, and behavioral adjustment.
The Child Development Project was funded by Grants MH42498, MH56961, MH57024, and MH57095 from the National Institute of Mental Health; Grant HD30572 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and Grant DA016903 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Patrick S. Malone is supported by Mentored Scientist Award K01 DA024116 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Kenneth A. Dodge is supported by Senior Scientist Award 2K05 DA015226 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. We are grateful to the parents, children, and teachers who participated in this research.