This paper examines the moderating role of problem-talk partnerships with peers who are rejected, victimized, or unpopular on links between self-perceived victimization by peers and depressive symptoms. Problem-talk partnerships are friendships that involve frequent discussion of problems and personal struggles. 267 adolescents (152 girls; mean age of 14.4 years) participated in a short-term prospective study with identical measures administered in two annual waves. The adolescents completed a battery of self-report questionnaires assessing peer victimization and depression. They also completed a peer nomination inventory and identified friends with whom they frequently discuss problems. High levels of peer nominated victimization, social rejection, and unpopularity among problem-talk partners were linked to elevated associations between self-reported victimization and depressive symptoms. The effects for unpopularity levels among problem-talk partners were moderated by gender. Compared to boys, girls’ adjustment was more strongly influenced by unpopularity among problem-talk partners. Conversely, friendships with peers who were not problem-talk partners did not have a consistent moderating role. The full pattern of findings highlights the need to consider the social adjustment of dyadic partners when examining the psychosocial impact of perceived victimization.
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The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Andrea Hopmeyer (Occidental College) who assisted in school recruitment and data collection. Dr. Hopmeyer lost her battle with breast cancer during the course of the project. This manuscript is dedicated to her memory.
This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Approval was granted by the Ethics Committee of the University of Southern California (UP-15-00579).
Written informed consent was obtained from parents of all participants and all participating adolescents provided assent to participate.
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Schwartz, D., Ryjova, Y., Luo, T. et al. Social Adjustment of Problem-Talk Partners Moderates Associations Between Self-Perceived Victimization and Depressive Symptoms. Res Child Adolesc Psychopathol 51, 369–382 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-022-00992-4