Title

Delinquent peer relationships as a mediator of the differential effects of social withdrawal and behavioral inhibition on delinquency

Date of Award

2013

Degree Name

M.A. in Clinical Psychology

Department

Department of Psychology

Advisor/Chair

Advisor: Jackson Goodnight

Abstract

Previous research has shown that the anxiety dispositions of behavioral inhibition and social withdrawal are differentially associated with delinquency in adolescence, such that behavioral inhibition decreases risk and social withdrawal increases risk for delinquency. However, it remains unclear why these highly similar dispositional characteristics would have opposite effects on risk for delinquency. The present study tested peer delinquency as a possible mediator of the differential effects of social withdrawal and behavioral inhibition on delinquency. The current study hypothesized that social withdrawal would be positively associated with peer and youth delinquency; that behavioral inhibition would be negatively associated with peer and youth delinquency; and that the effects of behavioral inhibition and social withdrawal on youth delinquency would be mediated by peer delinquency. The current study analyzed data from a longitudinal study of social development. Participants completed measures of behavioral inhibition and social withdrawal at age 12, peer delinquency at age 14, and youth delinquency at age 16. Results from path analysis revealed that social withdrawal was significantly negatively associated with youth delinquency and peer delinquency. Additionally, peer delinquency was significantly positively associated with youth delinquency. Finally, peer delinquency significantly mediated the association between social withdrawal and youth delinquency, such that the negative association between social withdrawal and youth delinquency was accounted for by the negative association between social withdrawal and peer delinquency. All other hypothesized associations were non-significant. These results are inconsistent with findings from past research and suggest that further research is needed to understand how behavioral inhibition and social withdrawal are related to delinquency.

Keywords

Juvenile delinquency Longitudinal studies, Inhibition in children Longitudinal studies, Peer pressure Longitudinal studies, Solitude in children Longitudinal studies, Behavioral sciences; clinical psychology; psychology; behavioral inhibition; social withdrawal; youth delinquency; peer influence

Rights Statement

Copyright 2013, author

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