Associations Between Fifth Graders' Gender Atypical Problem Behavior and Peer Relationships: A Short-Term Longitudinal Study

Karen P. Kochel, Cindy Miller, Kimberly Updegraff, Gary Ladd, Becky Ladd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


An accruing body of evidence supports associations between self-perceived gender typicality and peer relationship difficulties; however, researchers have yet to evaluate peers' perceptions of problem behaviors to gain insight into the social correlates of gender typicality. A short-term longitudinal study was conducted to evaluate associations between gender atypical problem behavior and subsequent peer relational difficulties for 2,076 fifth graders (M age = 10. 27; 53% female). Peer nomination methodology was used to assess participants' classroom peer relationships, problem behaviors, and social-emotional characteristics. Findings showed that youth characterized by gender atypical, compared to gender typical, problem behavior (withdrawn boys/aggressive girls vs. withdrawn girls/aggressive boys, respectively) evidenced higher levels of subsequent peer difficulties; moreover, participation in a mutual friendship was associated with decreased risk for peer relationship maladjustment, particularly among youth characterized by gender atypical problem behavior. Results further revealed that, compared to friendless youth, friended youth earned higher prosocial and peer liking scores and, for withdrawn youth, lower emotional sensitivity scores. The present research contributes to our understanding of the potential short-term consequences of youth's gender atypical problem behavior. Findings underscore the need for supplemental conceptualizations of gender typicality as well as multifaceted interventions designed to promote the acceptance of gender nonnormativity, support the development of adaptive peer relationships, and reduce the occurrence of problem behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1022-1034
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Gender
  • Gender typicality
  • Peer relationships
  • Problem behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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