Date of Award

Spring 1994

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Kathleen McCartney


The risk hypothesis proposes that problematic peer relations predict later maladjustment. Extensive research on the risk hypothesis provides evidence that the quality of peer relations is associated with adjustment. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the associations, concurrently and across time, among three distinct levels of peer relations (dyadic friendship, small group interactions, and sociometric status) and two perspectives of social/behavioral adjustment as assessed by parents and children. The study showed further support for the risk hypothesis that low peer group acceptance in the classroom, low prosocial non-interactions in the small group, low warmth and high conflict in dyadic friendships were related to problematic adjustment and low self-perception. Moreover, early conflicted friendships were associated with later social competency. Trends also suggested that conflicted friendships were associated with later behavior problems. Additionally, reciprocal effects showed that adjustment was associated, concurrently and across time, with the quality of peer relations.