self-perception, social withdrawal, children


Children who think poorly about themselves are considered at-risk for a myriad of negative outcomes. Thus, it is important to explore possible origins of such cognitions, particularly in young children. The purpose of this study was to examine the relations between various nonsocial behaviors (i.e., reticence and social withdrawal), observed peer acceptance at ages 4 and 7 years, and self-perceptions at age 7 years in both boys and girls, respectively.

Participants included 163 children (89 females, 74 males) who were seen at age 4 and then again at age 7 years. For girls, results revealed that nonsocial behavior (both reticence and solitary-passive withdrawal) was negatively related to observed peer acceptance at both ages 4 and 7, and peer acceptance, as early as 4 years of age, was found to influence self-perceptions of competence at age 7 years. For boys, results revealed that (a) reticence at age 7 predicted negatively to perceived peer acceptance, perceived physical and perceived cognitive competence at age 7 years, (b) solitary-passive withdrawal at age 4 predicted positive cognitive self-perceptions at age 7, and (c) solitary-passive withdrawal at age 7 predicted negatively to perceived peer acceptance and perceived physical competence at age 7 years.

Original Publication Citation

Nelson, L. J., Rubin, K. H., & Fox, N. A. (2005). Social withdrawal, observed peer acceptance, and the development of self-perceptions in children ages 4 to 7 years. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 20, 185-200.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Early Childhood Research Quarterly




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor