Peer Relations of Chinese Adolescent Newcomers: Relations of Peer Group Integration and Friendship Quality to Psychological and School Adjustment

  • Zuhra TejaEmail author
  • Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl


The association between peer relations and adjustment was examined in 121 Chinese adolescent newcomers (11–19 years) attending public schools in an urban Canadian city. Data were collected via self-reports of peer relations (i.e., peer group integration, friendship quality) and psychological adjustment (i.e., depression, anxiety), and teacher reports of school competence, externalizing problem behaviors, and learning problems. Results revealed that in their best friendship, girls reported higher levels of closeness, help, and security than did boys, and boys reported higher levels of conflict than did girls. Results of hierarchical regression analyses revealed that several of the dimensions of peer relations significantly predicted adjustment outcomes. Most notably, peer group integration significantly predicted psychological adjustment above and beyond friendship quality. The cultural and policy implications of these findings are discussed.


Peer group integration Friendship Adjustment Adolescence Chinese newcomers 



This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


  1. Asher, S. R., Hymel, S., & Renshaw, P. D. (1984). Loneliness in children. Child Development, 55, 1456–1464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beiser, M., & Flemming, J. A. E. (1986). Measuring psychiatric disorder among Southeast Asian refugees. Psychological Medicine, 16, 627–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berndt, T. J. (1996). Transitions in friendship and friends’ influence. In J. A. Graber, J. Brooks-Gunn, & A. C. Petersen (Eds.), Transitions through adolescence: Interpersonal domains and context (pp. 57–84). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, J. W., Phinney, J. S., Sam, D. L., & Vedder, P. (2006). Immigrant youth: acculturation, identity, and adaptation. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 25, 303–332.Google Scholar
  5. Birch, S. H., & Ladd, G. W. (1996). Interpersonal relationships in the school environment and children’s early school adjustment: The role of teachers and peers. In J. Juvonen & K. R. Wentzel (Eds.), Social motivation: Understanding children’s school adjustment. Cambridge studies in social and emotional development (pp. 199–225). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, B. B., & Klute, C. (2003). Friendships, cliques, and crowds. In G. R. Adams & M. D. Berzonsky (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of adolescence (pp. 330–348). Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Buhrmester, D. (1990). Intimacy of friendship, interpersonal competence, and adjustment during preadolescence and adolescence. Child Development, 61, 1101–1111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buhs, E. S., Ladd, G. W., & Herald, S. L. (2006). Peer exclusion and victimization: processes that mediate the relation between peer group rejection and children’s classroom engagement and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bukowski, W. M., Hoza, B., & Boivin, M. (1994). Measuring friendship quality during pre- and early adolescence: the development and psychometric properties of the Friendship Qualities Scale. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 11, 471–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen, X., Cen, G., Li, D., & He, Y. (2005). Social functioning and adjustment in Chinese children: the imprint of historical time. Child Development, 76, 182–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen, X., Chang, L., Liu, H., & He, Y. (2008). Effects of the peer group on the development of social functioning and academic achievement: a longitudinal study in Chinese children. Child Development, 79, 235–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen, X., & French, D. (2008). Children’s social competence in cultural context. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 591–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen, X., French, D., & Schneider, H. (2006). Culture and peer relationships. In X. Chen, D. French, & H. Schneider (Eds.), Peer relationships in cultural context: Cambridge studies in social and emotional development (pp. 3–20). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chen, X., Li, D., Li, Z., Li, B., & Liu, M. (2000). Sociable and prosocial dimensions of social competence in Chinese children: common and unique contributions to social, academic, and psychological adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 36, 302–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chen, X., Rubin, K. H., & Li, B. (1999). Adolescent outcomes of social functioning in Chinese children. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 23, 199–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chen, X., Rubin, K. H., & Li, B. (1995). Social and school adjustment of shy and aggressive children in China. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 337–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chen, X., & Tse, H. C. (2008). Social functioning and adjustment in Canadian-born children with Chinese and European backgrounds. Developmental Psychology, 44, 1184–1189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cheung, S. K., & McBride-Chang, C. (2011). Relations of gender, gender-related personality characteristics, and dating status to adolescents’ cross-sex friendship quality. Sex Roles, 64, 59–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chow, H. P. H. (2007). Sense of belonging and life satisfaction among Hong Kong adolescent immigrants in Canada. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 33, 511–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cities of Migration (2012). Webinar: All Kids Are VIPs: immigration integration at school. Accessed 30 Jun 2012.
  21. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2009). Facts and Figures: Immigration Overview Permanent and Temporary Residents. Retrieved from
  22. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2010). Welcome to Canada: What you should know.
  23. Claes, M. (1994). Friendship characteristics of adolescents referred for psychiatric treatment. Journal of Adolescent Research, 9, 180–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Lawrence Earlbaum.Google Scholar
  25. Cole, E. (1998). Immigrant and refugee children: challenges and opportunities for education and mental health services. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 14, 36–50.Google Scholar
  26. Degirmencioglu, S. M., Urberg, K. A., Tolson, J. M., & Richard, P. (1998). Adolescent friendship networks: continuity and change over the school year. Merrill Palmer Quarterly, 44, 313–337.Google Scholar
  27. Dishion, T. J., McCord, J., & Poulin, F. (1999). When interventions harm: peer groups and problem behavior. American Psychologist, 54, 755–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. DuongTran, Q. (1996). Psychosocial correlates and depression in Vietnamese adolescents. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 13, 41–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Erath, S. A., Flanagan, K. S., & Bierman, K. L. (2008). Early adolescent school adjustment: associations with friendship and peer victimization. Social Development, 17, 853–870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Feldman, S. S., Rubenstein, J. L., & Rubin, C. (1988). Depressive affect and restraint in early adolescents: relationships with family structure, family process and friendship support. Journal of Early Adolescence, 8, 279–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Florsheim, P. (1997). Chinese adolescent immigrants: factors related to psychosocial adjustment. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 26, 143–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Furman, W., & Buhrmester, D. (1985). Age and sex differences in perceptions of networks of social relationships. Child Development, 63, 103–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Goodenow, C., & Espin, O. M. (1993). Identity choices in immigrant adolescent females. Adolescence, 28, 173–184.Google Scholar
  34. Guroglu, B., van Loushout, C. F. M., Haselager, R. H. J., & Scholte, H. J. (2007). Similarity and complementarity of behavioral profiles of friendship types and types of friends: friendships and psychosocial adjustment. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17, 357–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hartup, W. W. (1993). Adolescents and their friends. In B. Laursen (Ed.), Close friendships in adolescence (pp. 3–22). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  36. Hayden Thomson, L. K. (1989). The development of the relational provision loneliness questionnaire for children. Doctoral dissertation, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario.Google Scholar
  37. Hightower, A. D., Work, W. C., Cowen, E. L., Lotyczewski, B. S., Spinell, A. P., Guare, J. C., & Rohrbeck, C. A. (1986). The teacher–child rating scale: a brief objective measure of elementary school children’s school problem behaviors and competencies. School Psychology Review, 15, 393–409.Google Scholar
  38. Horenczyk, G., & Tatar, M. (1998). Friendship expectations among immigrant adolescents and their host peers. Journal of Adolescence, 21, 69–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hyman, I., Vu, N., & Beiser, M. (2000). Post-migration stresses among Southeast Asian refugee youth in Canada: a research note. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 31, 281–293.Google Scholar
  40. Hymel, S., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Miller, L. (2006). Reading, ‘riting’, ‘rithmetic’, and relationships: considering the social side of education. Exceptionality Education Canada, 16, 1–44.Google Scholar
  41. Kan, M. L., & McHale, S. M. (2007). Clusters and correlates of experiences with parents and peers in early adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17, 565–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kinze, J. D., Manson, S. M., Vinh, D. T., Tolan, N. T., Anh, B., & Pho, T. N. (1982). Development and validation of a Vietnamese-language depression rating scale. American Journal of Psychiatry, 139, 1276–1281.Google Scholar
  43. Kiuru, N., Aunola, K., Nurmi, J., Lesinen, E., & Salmela-Aro, K. (2008). Peer group influence and selection in adolescents’ school burnout: a longitudinal study. Merrill-Palmar Quarterly, 54, 23–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kovacs, M. (1980/81). Rating scales to assess depression in school-aged children. Acta Paedopsychiatrica, 46, 305–315.Google Scholar
  45. Kupersmidt, J. B., Buchele, K. S., Voegler, M. E., & Sedikides, C. (1996). Social self-discrepancy: a theory relating peer relations problems and school maladjustment. In J. Juvonen & K. R. Wentzel (Eds.), Social motivation: understanding children’s school adjustment. Cambridge studies in social and emotional development (pp. 66–97). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. La Greca, A. M., & Lopez, N. (1998). Social anxiety among adolescents: linkages with peer relations and friendships. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 26, 83–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lansford, J. E., Criss, M. M., Pettit, G. S., Dodge, K. A., & Bates, J. E. (2003). Friendship quality, peer group affiliation, and peer antisocial behavior as moderators of the link between negative parenting and adolescent externalizing behavior. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 13, 161–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Liu, M., & Chen, X. (2003). Friendship networks and social, school, and psychological adjustment in Chinese junior high school students. Psychology in the Schools, 40, 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Luthar, S. S. (1993). Annotation: methodological and conceptual issues in research on childhood resilience. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 34, 441–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Luthar, S. S. (1995). Social competence in the school setting: prospective cross-domain associations among inner city teens. Child Development, 66, 416–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Maccoby, E. E. (1995). The two sexes and their social systems. In P. Moen, G. H. Elder Jr., & K. Luescher (Eds.), Examining lives in context: Perspectives on the ecology of human development (pp. 347–364). Washington: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Minister of Supply and Services Canada. (1988). Review of the literature on migrant mental health: Canadian task force on mental health issues affecting immigrants and refugees. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.Google Scholar
  53. Mollica, R. F., Wyshak, G., deMarneffe, D., Khuon, F., & Lavelle, J. (1987). Indochinese versions of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25: a screening instrument for the psychiatric care of refugees. American Journal of Psychiatry, 44, 496–500.Google Scholar
  54. Motti-Stefanidi, F., Pavlopoulos, V., Obradovic, J., & Masten, A. S. (2008). Acculturation and adaptation of immigrant adolescents in Greek urban schools. International Journal of Psychology, 43, 45–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Nitschke, J. B., Heller, W., Imig, J. C., McDonald, R. P., & Miller, G. A. (2001). Distinguishing dimensions of anxiety and depression. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 25, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Oppedal, B., Roysamb, E., & Hyerdahl, S. (2005). Ethnic group, acculturation, and psychiatric problems in young immigrants. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 646–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Oyserman, D., Coon, H. M., & Kemmelmeier, M. (2002). Rethinking individualism and collectivism: evaluation of theoretical assumptions and meta-analyses. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 3–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Parker, J. G., & Asher, S. R. (1993). Friendship and friendship quality in middle childhood: links with peer group acceptance and feelings of loneliness and social dissatisfaction. Developmental Psychology, 29, 611–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Parker, J. G., Rubin, K. H., Erath, S. A., Wojslawowicz, J. C., & Buskirk, A. A. (2006). Peer relationships, child development, and adjustment: a developmental psychopathology perspective. In D. Cicchetti & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology: Vol. 1: theory and methods (2nd ed., pp. 96–161). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  60. Portes, P. R. (1999). Social and psychological factors in the academic achievement of children of immigrants: a cultural history puzzle. American Educational Research Journal, 36, 489–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D Scale: a self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Reynolds, C. R., & Richmond, B. O. (1985). Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale: manual. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  63. Rose, A. J., & Rudolph, K. D. (2006). A review of sex differences in peer relationship processes: potential trade-offs for the emotional and behavioral development of girls and boys. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 98–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rubin, K. H., Bukowski, W., & Parker, J. G. (2006). Peer interactions, relationships, and groups. In N. Eisenberg (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (Social, emotional, and personality development, Vol. 3, pp. 571–645). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  65. Schonert-Reichl, K. A. (1995). The friendships and peer relations of adolescents with behavioural problems. Exceptionality Education Canada, 5, 55–80.Google Scholar
  66. Savin-Williams, R. C., & Berndt, T. J. (1990). Friendship and peer relations. In S. S. Feldman & G. R. Elliott (Eds.), At the threshold: the developing adolescent (pp. 277–307). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Schwartz-Mette, R. A., & Rose, A. J. (2009). Conversational self-focus in adolescent friendships: observational assessment of an interpersonal process and relations with internalizing symptoms and friendship quality. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28, 1263–1297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Schwartz, S. J., Montgomery, M. J., & Briones, E. (2006). The role of identity in acculturation among immigrant people: theoretical propositions, empirical questions, and applied recommendations. Human Development, 49, 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Statistics Canada (2006). Immigration and citizenship highlight tables, 2006 census. Accessed 12 Apr 2011.
  70. Statistics Canada (2005). Population projections of visible minority groups, Canada, provinces, and regions: 2001–2017.
  71. Sullivan, H. S. (1953). The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  72. Uba, I., Yaacob, S. N., & Juhari, R. (2009). The relationship between peer relationships and depression among adolescents in Selangor, Malaysia. European Journal of Social Sciences, 11, 149–159.Google Scholar
  73. United Nations (2005). Beijing at ten: achieving gender equality, development, and peace (United Nations Press Release).
  74. Way, N., & Chen, L. (2000). Close and general friendships among African American, Latino, and Asian American adolescents from low-income families. Journal of Adolescent Research, 15, 274–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Worthen, M. G. F. (2012). Gender differences in delinquency in early, middle, and late adolescence: an exploration of parent and friend relationships. Deviant Behavior, 33, 282–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special EducationUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations