Longitudinal Changes in Victimized Youth’s Social Anxiety and Solitary Behavior

Gary Ladd, Idean Ettekal, Becky Ladd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This investigation’s aims were to assess normative trends in social anxiety and preference for solitude by gender from early childhood to late adolescence and examine the associations among the timing and duration of peer victimization and patterns of continuity or change in social anxiety and preference for solitude across this age period. A sample of 383 children (193 girls) was followed from kindergarten (Mage = 5.50) through grade 12 (Mage = 17.89), and measures of peer victimization, social anxiety, and preference for solitude were repeatedly administered across this epoch. Five victimization trajectory subtypes emerged, capturing individual differences in victimization frequency and continuity (i.e., high-chronic, moderate-emerging, early victims, low victims, and non-victims). Results supported the conclusion that chronic victimization, a key stressor in children’s peer environments, plays a different role in the development of social anxiety and preference for solitude. Whereas chronic victimization was associated with the maintenance of social anxiety, it accompanied gains in preference for solitude. The findings provide a more complete account of the overall prevalence, stability, and developmental course of victimized youths’ social anxiety and preference for solitude than has been reported to date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1211-1223
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 15 2019


  • Peer relations
  • Peer victimization
  • Peer victimization trajectories
  • Preference for solitude
  • Social anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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