Social Context Influences on Children’s Rejection by Their Peers


  • The first author would like to express appreciation to Rhona Weinstein, whose mentorship influenced the development of the views presented in this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Amori Yee Mikami, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, 102 Gilmer Hall, P.O. Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400; email:


Abstract— Peer rejection has gained much attention in recent years, due to repeated findings that negative peer experiences in childhood predict adjustment difficulties in adolescence and adulthood. The dominant conceptualization within developmental psychology has overwhelmingly focused on deficits within rejected children that contribute to their difficulties and has neglected contextual factors in the peer group setting that may also influence peer rejection. This article reviews growing evidence that the social context in which peer interactions occur does affect children’s liking or disliking of peers and argues that a complete model of peer rejection will be obtained only through understanding influences of social contexts. Implications for improving existing peer-rejection interventions and for public policy are discussed.