Peer Victimization and Prospective Changes in Children’s Inferential Styles

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By bhadmin February 2, 2021

There is evidence that the cognitive vulnerabilities featured in the hopelessness theory of depression—inferential styles for the causes, consequences, and self-worth implications of negative events—increase risk for depression. Given this, it is important to understand how these inferential styles develop. In this study, we examined the impact of overt and relational peer victimization in a multiwave prospective study of 100 children (8–12 years of age) with peer victimization and inferential styles assessed every 2 months for 6 months (4 assessments total). Overt victimization uniquely predicted prospective changes in children’s inferential styles for consequences and relational victimization uniquely predicted changes in inferential styles for self-characteristics. It is important to note that these relations were maintained even after controlling for the impact of concurrent depressive symptoms. These results add to a growing body of research suggesting that peer victimization may increase risk for the development of cognitive vulnerability to depression in children.

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