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Cognitive mediators of the effect of peer victimization on loneliness

Catterson, Jennifer and Hunter, Simon C. (2010) Cognitive mediators of the effect of peer victimization on loneliness. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80 (3). pp. 403-416. ISSN 0007-0998

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The impact of stress on psychological adjustment may be mediated by cognitive interpretations (i.e., appraisals) of events for individuals. Defining characteristics of loneliness suggest that appraisals of blame, threat, and perceived control may be particularly important in this domain. AIMS: To evaluate the extent to which cognitive appraisals (perceived control, threat, and blame) can mediate the effect of peer victimization on loneliness. SAMPLE: One hundred and ten children (54 boys, 56 girls) aged 8-12 years attending mainstream schools in Scotland. METHOD: Self-report measures of peer victimization, appraisal, and loneliness. RESULTS: Perceived control partially mediated the effects of peer victimization on loneliness, but neither blame nor threat were mediators. All three measures of control were significantly associated with loneliness at the bivariate level, but only perceived control was significant when the appraisals were entered as predictors in a hierarchical multiple linear regression. CONCLUSIONS: The results highlight the importance of research designs assessing multiple categories of appraisal. Furthermore, they suggest that intervention efforts aiming to combat feelings of loneliness within a peer victimization context should address children's appraisals of perceived control.