Sociability and Social Withdrawal in Childhood: Stability and Outcomes


  • This research was supported by grants to Kenneth H Rubin and Shelley Hymel from the Ontario Mental Health Foundation and Health and Welfare Canada Preparation of this manuscript was aided by a Killam Research Fellowship to Kenneth H Rubin We are grateful to the teachers and children in the Waterloo County Board of Education for their cooperation in this project Thanks go also to Anne Emptage, Laurie Addis, and Linda Rowden for their help in gathering and analyzing the data of this project

concerning this manuscript should be addressed to Kenneth H Rubin, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1


ABSTRACT The stability and long-term correlates of both social withdrawal and sociability were investigated in a longitudinal study of normal children in kindergarten through the fifth grade Both observational and peer assessment indices of withdrawal and sociability were considered, furthermore, a distinction was made between observed active versus passive solitude Of particular interest was whether social withdrawal in early childhood was predictive of subsequent internalizing problems, as assessed by self-reports of social competence, overall self-worth, loneliness, and depression as well as teacher ratings of shy/anxious behavior, in later childhood Results indicated a modest degree of stability for observed social withdrawal but not for observed sociability, nor for active or passive forms of solitude Somewhat higher stability correlations were obtained for peer assessments of both sociability and withdrawal In terms of predictive outcomes, significant relations were found between early social withdrawal in kindergarten and Grade 2 and subsequent internalizing problems in Grades 4 and 5, although the pattern of results was mixed These data suggest that social withdrawal in early childhood may be predictive of risk for internalizing difficulties in later childhood