Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 597–609 | Cite as

Childhood depression: Peer reactions to depression and life stress

  • Lizette Peterson
  • Larry L. Mullins
  • Robyn Ridley-Johnson


The present study investigated children's responses to a peer's childhood depression. Younger children in third and fourth grade and older children in fifth and sixth grade were exposed to one of four films. The four films portrayed a female peer who was either depressed or not depressed and who had experienced numerous recent life stresses or no recent life stress. Overall, children rated the depressed peers as less likable and attractive, as engaging in fewer positive current and future behaviors, and as needing therapy more than a nondepressed peer. There was a tendency to rate the depressed peer with high life stress more positively than the depressed peer with low life stress; this tendency decreased with age. Girls rated all of the peers and especially the stressed peers more positively than did the boys. The results are discussed in terms of the implications of children's social interaction for the initiation or maintenance of childhood depression.


Younger Child Social Interaction Life Stress Sixth Grade Fourth Grade 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lizette Peterson
    • 1
  • Larry L. Mullins
    • 1
  • Robyn Ridley-Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of Missouri-ColumbiaColumbia

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