Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 786–800 | Cite as

The Peer Informant: Characteristics Related to the Perceptions of Peer Behavior Problems

  • Brea-Anne M. Lauer
  • Kimberly Renk
Original Paper


Victimization and rejection by peers leads to and exacerbates behavior problems in children and adolescents. Given the implications of problematic peer relations for adolescents who experience behavior problems, the present study examined factors that may be related to how adolescents perceive peers who exhibit such problems. Specifically, the present study examined the relationship of adolescent informants’ socioeconomic status, their prior exposure to psychological symptoms, their perceived social acceptance, and their own behavior problems to their perceptions of peers’ internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, their liking and disliking of peers who exhibit such problems, and their attributions for the etiology of such problems when portrayed by fictitious peers of the same age. In particular, adolescents were asked to rate a set of vignettes portraying internalizing and externalizing behavior problems that are seen commonly in peers and to complete a set of brief questionnaires. Results revealed that adolescents were able to perceive the presence of both internalizing and externalizing behavior problems in vignette characters. Additionally, vignette characters who did not exhibit behavior problems were most likely to be approached and liked, whereas those vignette characters who displayed externalizing behavior problems were more likely to be disliked and ignored. Finally, although adolescents endorsed both internal and external etiological factors, ratings were related to the sex of the depicted vignette character and the nature of the portrayed behavior problems. Overall, this study provided additional evidence that, although adolescents can serve as valuable informants, they also tended to be rejecting of peers who display behavior problems.


Cross-informant ratings Peers Adolescents Behavior ratings 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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