Social Information Processing and Coping Strategies of Shy/Withdrawn and Aggressive Children: Does Friendship Matter?


  • This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health grant MH58116 to Kenneth H. Rubin.

concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Kim Burgess, Pediatric Psychology Center, 14955 Shady Grove Road, Suite 210, Rockville, MD 20850, USA. Electronic mail may be sent to


The primary objectives of this investigation were to examine the attributions, emotional reactions, and coping strategies of shy/withdrawn and aggressive girls and boys and to examine whether such social cognitions differ within the relationship context of friendship. Drawn from a sample of fifth and sixth graders (M age=10.79 years; SD=.77), 78 shy/withdrawn, 76 aggressive, and 85 control children were presented with hypothetical social situations that first involved unfamiliar peers, and then a mutual good friend. Results revealed group and gender differences and similarities, depending on the relationship context. From our findings emerges a central message: friends' involvement during interpersonal challenges or stressors mitigates children's attributions, emotions, and coping responses.