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Title: Self-esteem, friendship and shyness during middle childhood
Author: Fordham, K. H.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1997
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Shyness has been construed as a form of social withdrawal motivated by social evaluative concerns. Research demonstrates that social difficulties related to withdrawal and inhibition may result in adjustment problems of an internalising nature, such as low self-esteem and loneliness. Special significance has, however, been ascribed to preadolescent friendships as a means of validating self-worth, buffering against loneliness, and providing a climate in which the skills of cooperation and negotiation can develop. Thus, the literature suggests that a predisposition to shyness may render a child "at risk" of becoming locked within a self-perpetuating cycle of negative peer experiences, self-perceptions of social incompetence and heightened feelings of loneliness, with clinical implications for later life; but that the outcome may vary as a function of a best friendship. This study involves an investigation of shyness, adjustment and aspects of a best friendship among a group of 8.5-10.5 year-old children (N=50), who had been preselected for shyness (or as nonshy controls) at 4-4.5 years. In addition to a high level of consistency in shyness, age-specific findings emerged which suggest that during middle childhood marked and meaningful changes are occurring in the significance of shy behaviour and a good quality friendship, to children's adjustment. Comparisons of 9 and 10 year-olds indicate that as children enter preadolescence, shyness increases in salience and becomes a risk factor for internalising problems; global self-worth takes on a more central mediating role in children's adjustment; and a high quality best friendship is more strongly related to positive self-worth. Meaningful links were also found between children's shyness, global self-worth and perceptions of friendship quality, and the nature of their interactions with a best friend. The findings, for the reciprocated very best dyads and those matched for perceptions of conflict, also accord with the view that in high quality friendships, friends develop a sense of what is important to one another, and forgo individualistic motives in favour of more mutuality and collaboration.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available