Heterogeneity among Peer-Rejected Boys: Subtypes and Stabilities


  • Data for this study were collected under grant no. 560–263–013 from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) to Tamara J. Ferguson. Additional financial support was provided by the Praeventiefonds and the Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland to the second and third authors and by Fulbright and NWO Research Scholarships to the fourth author.

Reprint requests should be sent to A. H. N. Cillessen, Department of Psychology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27706.


Cluster analysis was used to identify subtypes among 98 peer-rejected 5–7-year-old boys. Repeated sociometric nominations obtained over a 1-year interval permitted examination of the relation between rejection subtype and sociometric stability. Results revealed that 48% of these rejected boys were aggressive, impulsive, disruptive, and noncooperative as well as not involved in mutual liking. A smaller number (13%) were socially shy, perceived themselves to be negatively regarded by their peers, and were uninvolved in mutual liking. Two other subtypes, accounting for 39% of these boys, did not seem especially deviant. These behavioral characteristics generally typified the four rejection subtypes 1 year later. 66% of the nonaggressive subtypes changed sociometric classification (i.e., became average or popular) after a year, whereas only 42% of the aggressive-rejected children did so, suggesting that peer rejection that involves aggression is more stable than rejection that does not.