Modeling Emotional, Cognitive, and Behavioral Predictors of Peer Acceptance



Integrating principles of differential emotions theory and social information–processing theory, this study examined a model of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral predictors of peer acceptance in a sample of 201 early elementary school–age children (mean age = 7 years, 5 months). A path analytic model showed that social skills mediated the effect of emotion knowledge on both same– and opposite–sex social preference, but social skills and verbal ability were more strongly related to opposite–sex peer acceptance. These findings suggest that adaptive social skills constitute a mechanism through which children express their emotion knowledge and achieve peer acceptance. Results also supported findings of previous studies that showed that emotion knowledge mediated the effect of verbal ability on social skills. Findings from the present study have specific implications for emotion–centered prevention programs that aim to improve children's socioemotional competence and enhance the likelihood of peer acceptance.