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Loneliness and Peer Relations in Young Children

Jude Cassidy and Steven R. Asher
Child Development
Vol. 63, No. 2 (Apr., 1992), pp. 350-365
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131484
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131484
Page Count: 16
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Loneliness and Peer Relations in Young Children
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Abstract

Recent studies indicate that feelings of loneliness and social dissatisfaction can be reliably assessed with third- through sixth-grade children, and that children who are sociometrically rejected by their peers are significantly more lonely than other children. The present research was designed (a) to examine whether loneliness could be reliably assessed in a population younger than previously studied, (b) to learn whether young children who are poorly accepted by peers report elevated levels of loneliness and social dissatisfaction, (c) to assess whether young children understand the concept of loneliness, and (d) to examine the behavorial characteristics of lonely young children. Kindergarten and first-grade children (N = 440) responded to a questionnaire about feelings of loneliness and social dissatisfaction in school. A subset of children (N = 46) were individually interviewed to assess their understanding of loneliness. To assess sociometric status and behavior, peers were asked to respond to various sociometric measures and behavioral assessment items. Teachers also provided behavioral information about children using a newly developed instrument. Results indicated that nearly all children understood loneliness, that lineliness was reliably assessed in young children, and that poorly accepted children were more lonely than other children. In addition, children who reported the most loneliness were found to differ from others on several behavioral dimensions.

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