Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 June 2009
In recent years, a growing body of research has established that children who have poor peer relationships are particularly at risk for the development of later psychiatric and antisocial disorders — for instance, they are more likely to drop out of school, be later identified as juvenile delinquents, and have mental health problems in adult life (Asher et al., 1977). Children who are picked out by their peers as isolated or rejected are particularly vulnerable (Cowen et al., 1973; Roff et al., 1972). This finding has led researchers to evaluate “popularity” by sociometric tests which involve asking children who their friends are and who they dislike. Such sociometric scores have been shown to have moderate reliability (Roff et al., 1972), but much depends on the type of question asked (Oden & Asher, 1977). In particular, it is clear that sociometric acceptance has different correlates from sociometric rejection, the former being more an index of amount of social participation (Combs & Slaby, 1977), the latter of its quality.