Sociometric Types and Social Interaction Styles in a Sample of Spanish Adolescents

Area de Psicología Evolutiva y de la Educación, Dpto. de Psicología, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Avda. de la Universidad, s/n. 03202 Elche, Alicante, Spain.
The Spanish Journal of Psychology (Impact Factor: 0.74). 11/2010; 13(2):730-40.
Source: PubMed
ABSTRACT
This study analyzed the relationship between social interaction styles and sociometric types in a sample of 1,349 (51.7% boys, and 48.3% girls) Spanish adolescents. The results revealed that the proportion of prosocial adolescents nominated as liked by peers was significantly higher than prosocial with social anxiety, whereas the proportion of aggressive adolescents nominated by peers as rejected was significantly higher than the proportion of rejected-prosocial and rejected-with social anxiety. The percentages of sociometric types and social interaction styles varied significantly according to gender and academic grade. Logistic regression analyses showed that being prosocial was 48% more likely when adolescents are nominated by peers as liked, whereas being prosocial was 41% and 79% less likely when adolescents were nominated as rejected and neglected, respectively. Furthermore, prosocial adolescents were 67% more likely nominated by peers as liked, and were less likely nominated as rejected (42%) and neglected (78%). Finally, being neglected was 83% more likely in aggressive adolescents.

Full-text

Available from: Beatriz Delgado
730
This study analyzed the relationship between social interaction styles and sociometric types in a sample of 1,349 (51.7%
boys, and 48.3% girls) Spanish adolescents. The results revealed that the proportion of prosocial adolescents nominated as
liked by peers was signicantly higher than prosocial with social anxiety, whereas the proportion of aggressive adolescents
nominated by peers as rejected was signicantly higher than the proportion of rejected-prosocial and rejected-with social
anxiety. The percentages of sociometric types and social interaction styles varied signicantly according to gender and
academic grade. Logistic regression analyses showed that being prosocial was 48% more likely when adolescents are
nominated by peers as liked, whereas being prosocial was 41% and 79% less likely when adolescents were nominated as
rejected and neglected, respectively. Furthermore, prosocial adolescents were 67% more likely nominated by peers as liked,
and were less likely nominated as rejected (42%) and neglected (78%). Finally, being neglected was 83% more likely in
aggressive adolescents.
Keywords: adolescence, aggressive behavior, social anxiety, prosocial behavior, sociometric types.
Este estudio analizó la relación entre estilos de interacción social y tipos sociométricos en una muestra de 1.349 (51.7%
chicos y 48.3% chicas) adolescentes españoles. Los resultados indicaron que la proporción de adolescentes prosociales
nominados como preferidos por sus iguales fue signicativamente mayor que el porcentaje de preferidos con ansiedad social,
mientras que la proporción de adolescentes agresivos nominados como rechazados fue signicativamente más alta que la
tasa de rechazados-prosociales y rechazados-con ansiedad social. Los porcentajes relativos a tipos sociométricos y estilos
de interacción social variaron signicativamente según el género y el curso. Los análisis de regresión logística revelaron
que la probabilidad de pertenecer a la categoría prosocial fue un 48% más alta cuando los adolescentes fueron nominados
como preferidos por los iguales, mientras que fue un 41% y 79% más baja cuando los adolescentes fueron nominados como
rechazados e ignorados, respectivamente. Además, los adolescentes prosociales tuvieron un 67% más de probabilidad de ser
nominados por los iguales como preferidos mientras que fue menos probable que fuesen nominados como rechazados (42%)
e ignorados (78%). Finalmente, la probabilidad de ser nominado como ignorado fue un 83% más alta en los adolescentes
agresivos.
Palabras clave: adolescencia, agresividad, ansiedad social, conducta prosocial, tipos sociométricos.
Sociometric Types and Social Interaction Styles in a
Sample of Spanish Adolescents
Cándido J. Inglés
1
, Beatriz Delgado
1
, José M. García-Fernández
2
,
Cecilia Ruiz-Esteban
3
, and Ángela Díaz-Herrero
3
1
Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche (Spain)
2
Universidad de Alicante (Spain)
3
Universidad de Murcia (Spain)
This work was carried out via the Research Project SEJ 2004-07311/EDUC of the Plan Nacional de Investigación Cientíca,
Desarrollo e Innovación Tecnológica del Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia awarded to the rst author.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Cándido J. Inglés. Área de Psicología Evolutiva y de la Educación.
Dpto. de Psicología. Universidad Miguel Hernández. Avda. de la Universidad, s/n. 03202 Elche. Alicante. (Spain). E-mail: cjingles@umh.es
Copyright 2010 by The Spanish Journal of Psychology
ISSN 1138-7416
The Spanish Journal of Psychology
2010, Vol. 13 No. 2, 730-740
Page 1
PEER INTERACTION IN ADOLESCENCE
731
Peer interaction is of vital importance for the cognitive,
emotional, and social development of children and
adolescents. Reciprocal peer relations condition the learning
of skills and attitudes towards such interactions (Bukowski,
Bredgen, & Vitaro, 2007). Thus, children and adolescents
who have poor social relations may have more trouble
interacting with other peers, presenting worse psychosocial
adjustment and a higher risk of developing psycho-affective
disorders in the future (Garaigordobil, 2006).
Ortiz, Aguirrezabala, Apokada, Etxebarria, and López
(2002) reported the existence of three important behavioral
tendencies in social interaction: other-orientation, dened as
prosociability, oriented against the other or aggressiveness,
and the tendency to avoid the other, which is typical of
withdrawal and social anxiety (Rapee & Sweeney, 2005).
Socially anxious children and adolescents avoid and
escape from social situations because they produce high
levels of anxiety and cause discomfort, whereas aggressive
children violate others’ rights, insult, threaten, hit and/or
criticize their classmates. In contrast, prosocial children
tend to have adequate peer relationships, communicating
assertively and empathically, and displaying cooperative
and helping behaviors in the classroom (Inglés et al., 2008).
The prevalence of these social interaction patterns is high
in Spanish adolescents. Specically, the study conducted
by Inglés et al. (2008) revealed that 17% of the adolescents
were identied as prosocial, and 16% and 12%, respectively,
were identied as aggressive adolescents and as adolescents
with social anxiety.
Sociometric nomination expresses a student’s position or
status in the class, according to the opinion of his or her peers.
Currently, the classication methodology most broadly
accepted by the scientic community is bidimensionality,
considering social preference and the impact of social
variables from which derive ve sociometric types: liked,
rejected, neglected, controversial, and average. The
prevalence of these sociometric types varies signicantly
depending on the classication system employed (García-
Bacete, 2007; Muñoz, Moreno, & Jiménez, 2008). Recent
studies using the probabilistic classication criterion of
García-Bacete found a prevalence range of 11.4-11.7%
for liked, 12-12.3% for rejected, 12.9-13.7% for neglected,
4-5% for controversial, and 57.9-59.2% for average in
groups of students between 10-13 years of age (García-
Bacete, 2007; García-Bacete, Sureda, & Monjas, 2008).
Adolescents’ interpersonal relations with their
classmates have an impact on their degree of acceptance
or rejection within the peer group. Most of the empirical
studies have focused on the analysis of the cognitive-
behavioral patterns that characterize the diverse sociometric
types (Bukowski et al., 2007). Peers perceive liked
classmates as more sociable, less isolated and aggressive,
rejected classmates as more aggressive and slightly isolated,
and neglected classmates as less sociable and aggressive
and more isolated than their liked counterparts, whereas
controversial classmates are perceived like aggressive
classmates but as being more sociable than rejected
classmates (García-Bacete, 2007; Jiménez, 2003; Muñoz et
al., 2008). In addition, rejected and neglected adolescents
usually present higher levels of social anxiety than the
remaining sociometric types, although neglected students
present the highest social inhibition (Inderbitzen, Walters,
& Bukowski, 1997). In this sense, a recent study carried
out with Spanish preadolescents revealed that the reasons
for rejecting a classmate involved behaviors associated
with aggressiveness, such as prepotency, dominance,
intimidation, and verbal and/or physical aggression, and not
so much because of inhibition or social withdrawal (Monjas,
Sureda, & García-Bacete, 2008). In this line, diverse
predictive studies have partially conrmed these results,
nding that low aggressiveness and high sociability are
signicant predictors of peer liking (e.g., Puckett, Wargo,
& Cillessen, 2008) whereas longitudinal studies have
identied the sociometric typologies as predictors of future
social adjustment, with sociometric popularity or liking in
Primary Education appearing as a negative predictor of low
aggressiveness and externalizing problems in Secondary
Education students (e.g., Mayeux & Cillessen, 2008).
The cognitive-behavioral correlates of the sociometric
types vary as a function of gender and, to a lesser degree,
of age (Inglés et al., 2008). Thus, girls are usually more
prosociability oriented and they develop more empathic
strategies, so they are signicantly more nominated as
liked by their classmates (Pakaslahti, Karjalainen, &
Keltikangas-Jarvinen, 2002), although this has not been
conrmed in Spanish studies (García-Bacete et al., 2008;
Sureda, García-Bacete, & Monjas, 2009). Likewise, the
prevalence of social anxiety is usually higher in girls
(Inglés et al., 2008; Rapee & Sweeney, 2005), which,
along with higher social avoidance and a lower level of
aggressiveness (Inglés et al., 2008), predisposes them to be
more nominated as neglected by their classmates (García-
Bacete et al., 2008). Moreover, boys usually display
more aggressive behaviors than their female classmates
(Buelga, Musitu, Murgui, & Pons, 2008; Inglés et al.,
2008). Therefore, they are rejected to a greater extent by
their peers than the girls (Gara-Bacete et al., 2008).
Regarding age, recent studies have concluded that
most of the sociometric types remain stable during the
school years. Jiang and Cillessen (2005) concluded, after
the meta-analysis of 77 studies, that there was evidence
of stability in the accepted and rejected types, with
more stability in older children. This indicates that the
structure of peer groups becomes stronger as the children
grow older and, therefore, peer nomination is also
more stable. In this sense, Gara-Bacete et al. (2008)
found that only the rate of controversial and liked girls
varied over the courses, increasing and decreasing from
Primary Education to 1
st
grade of Compulsory Secondary
Education (CSE), respectively.
Page 2
INGLÉS, DELGADO, GARCÍA-FERNÁNDEZ, RUIZ-ESTEBAN, AND DÍAZ-HERRERO
732
Despite the great interest aroused by the sociometric
perspective to predict children’s and adolescents’ future
social adjustment, there is an evident lack of works that
analyze the relation between the position or social status in
the classroom, mainly with regard to the neglected group,
and adolescents’ self-reported social interaction styles when
they interact with their peers. Therefore, this study had the
following goals: (a) to analyze the differences in prevalence
rates of sociometric types with regard to the patterns of
social interaction (prosocial, aggressive, and inhibited),
taking into account the variables gender and academic
grade in a representative sample of Spanish adolescents;
and (b) to examine, by means of logistic regression analysis,
the reciprocal predictive capacity of sociometric types and
social interaction styles in adolescence.
From previous empirical evidence, the following
hypotheses are derived:
1. Prosocial adolescents are more likely to be chosen
as liked than aggressive adolescents and adolescents
with social anxiety;
2. Aggressive adolescents are more likely to be rejected
than prosocial and socially anxious adolescents;
3. Adolescents with social anxiety are more likely to be
rejected and neglected than prosocial adolescents;
however, they are less likely to be rejected than
aggressive adolescents;
4. Prosociability and low aggressiveness will be positive
predictors of being liked, whereas aggressiveness
will be a negative predictor of being liked; and
5. Peer liking will signicantly predict adolescents’
social interaction styles. With regard to the
sociometric types of rejected and neglected, we
expect that both will act as signicantly negative
predictors of prosociability and positive predictors
of aggressiveness and social anxiety. Moreover,
we expect that prosociability will act as a negative
predictor of being rejected and neglected, whereas
aggressiveness and social anxiety will be positive
predictors of these sociometric types.
The analysis of the differences of percentages between
liked, rejected, and neglected adolescents according to their
social interaction style will allow us to: (a) identify the
prevalence of sociometrically “typical” students (liked-
prosocial and rejected-aggressive); (b) carry out an analysis
of the sociometrically “untypical” adolescents (liked-with
social anxiety, rejected-prosocial, neglected-prosocial);
and (c) to study in more depth the analysis of the neglected
students, the sociometric group that has received the least
attention. In addition, the use of logistic regression analysis
will contribute a novel view of the reciprocal predictive
capacity among the sociometric types and the social
interaction styles in adolescence, a phenomenon that has
yet to be investigated in our country.
Method
Participants
Random cluster sampling was carried out (geographical
areas of the province of Alicante and the Region of Murcia:
centre, north, south, east, and west). A total of 1,419
students participated in this work, from 1
st
to 4
th
grade of
Compulsory Secondary Education (CSE) (sampling error =
.02), of whom 70 (4.93%) were excluded because of errors
or omissions in their responses, because they did not obtain
their parents’ consent to participate in the investigation, or
because their mastery of the Spanish language was decient.
The nal sample comprised 1.349 students (697 boys
and 652 girls): from the 1
st
grade of CSE (203 boys and 183
girls), 2
nd
grade of CSE (173 boys and 152 girls), 3
rd
grade
of CSE (172 boys and 146 girls) and 4
th
grade of CSE (149
boys and 171 girls). Age range was from 12 to 18 years
(M = 13.86, SD = 1.38). Using the chi-square test to check
for homogeneous distribution of frequencies, we conrmed
that there were no statistically signicant differences among
the eight groups of Gender x Grade (χ
2
= 4.53, p = .21).
The sociocultural level of the adolescents was recorded
via the parents’ educational level: 10.82% of the fathers
and 11.18% of the mothers had primary studies (School
graduate), 66.6% of the fathers and 69.67% of the mothers
had middle studies (High school-Pre-university degree),
and 16.03% of the fathers and 13.24% of the mothers had
university studies (Diploma or Licentiate degree). As some
of the participants did not provide information about this
variable, we did not have these data for 6.55% of the fathers
and for 5.91% of the mothers.
Instruments
The Teenage Inventory of Social Skills (TISS;
Inderbitzen & Foster, 1992). The TISS has 40 items
grouped into two scales, Prosocial Behavior, which
assesses cooperative, helping, and friendly behaviors
(for example, “I offer my classmates help to do their
homework”) and Antisocial Behavior, which assesses
aggressive behaviors, disruptive reactions, and attention
seeking (for example, “I hit other kids when they make
me mad”). The items are rated on a 6-point Likert scale
ranging from 1 (it doesnt describe me at all) to 6 (it
describes me completely).
The psychometric properties of the TISS in North
American adolescent population were satisfactory
(Inderbitzen & Foster, 1992) and similar to those found
in a sample of Spanish adolescents (Inglés, Hidalgo,
ndez, & Inderbitzen, 2003). In this study, the internal
consistency coefcients (Cronbachs alpha) were
satisfactory for both scales: Prosocial Behavior (.89) and
Antisocial Behavior (.83).
Page 3
PEER INTERACTION IN ADOLESCENCE
733
The Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory (SPAI;
Turner, Beidel, Dancu, & Stanley, 1989). The SPAI is the
most frequently employed questionnaire to assess social
anxiety in adolescence. It has 45 items that measure social
phobia and agoraphobia by means of two subscales. The
Social Phobia subscale has 32 items (for example, “I feel
nervous when I am in social situations where there is a
big group of people”), rated on a 7-point scale, ranging
from 1 (never) to 7 (always). The SPAI presents excellent
reliability and validity in adolescent Spanish population
(García-López, Piqueras, Díaz-Castela, & Inglés, 2008).
For the goals of this study, we only used the Social Phobia
subscale, because it has been identied as the most precise
and specic measure to assess responses of social anxiety
in Spanish adolescents (Olivares et al., 2002). In this study,
the Social Phobia subscale presented a satisfactory internal
consistency index (.95).
Sociometric Peer Nomination Test. The sociometric test
allows one to determine the level of acceptance or rejection
of the members of a group, to discover the relations among
the individuals, and to reveal the structure of the group in
order to identify the liked, rejected, and neglected members.
We used the probabilistic nomination procedure with
three inter-gender choices, considered the most adequate
and precise of the sociometric nomination tests (García-
Bacete, 2007). The following items were included in the
questionnaire: (1) Write the name of three classmates
whom you like the most; and (2) Write the name of three
classmates whom you like the least. This study only focused
on the analysis of the liked, rejected, and neglected subjects
because these make up the largest number of students
(García-Bacete) and, in turn, they represent the best (liked)
and worst social adjustment (rejected and neglected) in the
academic setting.
Procedure
Once we had obtained the approval of the headmasters
and the psycho pedagogues of the centers and the written
informed consent of the participants’ parents to take
part in this investigation, we administered the tests. The
questionnaires were completed collectively, voluntarily,
and anonymously in the classrooms. The investigators
read the instructions of each test out loud, underlining
the importance of responding to all the items. The mean
duration of each instrument was 15 minutes.
Data Analysis
The students’ sociometric identication was carried
out by means of the Program Socio (González, 1990) by
which one obtains the lower and upper limits of the positive
nominations received (LL [Pn] and UL [Pn]) and of the
negative nominations received (LL [Nn] and UL [Nn]) for
a group or class of students, by calculating the binomial
probability to nd the value of the t test associated with
a certain skewness and a level of probability of less than
.05 (see Salvosa tables in Bastin, 1966). Identication was
made according to the following criteria: Liked = Pn UL
(Pn) and Nn < M (Nn); Rejected = Nn UL (Nn) and Pn
< M (Pn); and Neglected = Pn 1 and Nn < M (Nn). We
identied 201 (14.9%) liked students, 162 (12%) rejected
students, and 69 (5.1%) neglected students.
To identify students with social anxiety, we used the cut-
off score equal to or higher than 100 (rate of false positives =
1.32%) on the Social Phobia subscale of the SPAI (Olivares
et al., 2002), whereas to identify prosocial and aggressive
students, we used the cut-off score of the mean plus one
standard deviation on the Antisocial Behavior and Prosocial
Behavior scales of the TISS. We chose these cut-off points
because the SPAI assesses a clinical construct and has a
reliable cut-off point for the identication of subjects with
high social anxiety, whereas the TISS assesses non-clinical
constructs. Thus, we identied 163 students with social
anxiety (12.1%), 232 aggressive students (17.2%), and 229
prosocial students (17%).
To check for statistically signicant differences among
the proportions of sociometric types and social interaction
styles, we applied Cochran’s nonparametric Q test, which
allows the comparison of K related proportions, for the
total sample, by gender and grade. In the cases in which
the Q test detected statistically signicant differences, we
applied the Z test for differences in proportions to nd
between which sociometric types or social interaction
styles such differences occurred. Also, in order to eliminate
possible effects of sample size on the statistical analyses,
we calculated the effect size or mean standard difference (d
index) which determines the magnitude of the differences
found by the Z test. The interpretation of the effect size is
simple: values lower than or equal to .20 indicate a very
small effect size; values between .20 and .49, a small one;
between .50 and .79, a moderate effect size; and values
higher than .80, a large effect size (Cohen, 1988).
Lastly, predictor equations of the sociometric types
and the social interaction styles were formulated with
forward stepwise logistic regression analysis based on
Wald’s statistic, as the variables assessed in the study are
categorical and do not meet the assumptions of the general
linear model. The t of the models was carried out by means
of Nagelkerke’s R
2
.
Results
Prevalence of Sociometric Types among Students with
Social Anxiety, Aggressive, and Prosocial Students
Table 1 presents the relative frequencies and the
proportions corresponding to the interaction between
sociometric types (students identied as liked, rejected,
and neglected) and social interaction styles (students with
social anxiety, aggressive, and prosocial students). The
Page 4
INGLÉS, DELGADO, GARCÍA-FERNÁNDEZ, RUIZ-ESTEBAN, AND DÍAZ-HERRERO
734
proportions ranged between .2% (prosocial-neglected
students) and 3.6% (prosocial-liked students).
The Q statistic revealed statistically signicant
differences in the prevalences of social interaction styles
in liked, rejected, and neglected students. Specically, the
Z test detected that the proportion of liked students with
social anxiety was signicantly lower than the proportion
of liked-aggressive and liked-prosocial students. In
addition, the proportion of rejected-aggressive students
was signicantly higher than the proportion of rejected
students with social anxiety and rejected-prosocial students.
Lastly, the rate of neglected students with social anxiety
was statistically higher than the rate of neglected-prosocial
students, whereas the rate of neglected-aggressive students
was signicantly higher than that of neglected-prosocial
students. The magnitude of the differences found was, in
all cases, lower than .15, a value that indicates a very small
effect size (Cohen, 1988).
With regard to gender, the Q test detected prevalence
differences in the social interaction styles of the liked,
rejected, and neglected boys and of the liked girls (see
Table 2). The results indicate that the proportion of liked-
aggressive boys was signicantly higher than the proportion
of liked boys with social anxiety and of liked-prosocial
boys. This pattern of results was repeated in the sociometric
types of rejected and neglected boys. Regarding the girls,
only two statistically signicant comparisons were found.
Specically, the rate of liked-prosocial girls was higher
than that of liked-aggressive girls and of liked girls with
social anxiety. In all cases, the effect sizes of the differences
found were low in magnitude (d < .21).
As seen in Table 3, the Q test only detected statistically
signicant differences in the rejected adolescents of 3
rd
grade of CSE and in the liked and neglected adolescents
of 4
th
grade of CSE. Specically, in 3
rd
grade of CSE, the
proportion of rejected-aggressive students was signicantly
higher than that of rejected classmates with social anxiety
(d = -.19) and of rejected-prosocial classmates (d = .14). In
4
th
grade of CSE, the results indicated that the proportion of
liked adolescents with social anxiety was signicantly lower
than that of liked-prosocial (d = -.26) and liked-aggressive
(d = -.14) adolescents. Lastly, the rate of neglected-prosocial
adolescents was signicantly lower than that of neglected-
aggressive (d = .18) and neglected adolescents with social
anxiety (d = .13).
Prevalence of Social Interaction Styles among Liked,
Rejected, and Neglected Students
The Q tests detected statistically signicant differences
in the prevalences of sociometric types in aggressive
adolescents (Q = 7.23, p = .03) and prosocial adolescents
(Q = 45.65, p = .00). The results indicate that the proportion
of aggressive-liked students (Z = 2.69, p = .00, d = .10) and
of aggressive-rejected students (Z = 2.23, p = .01, d = .09)
was signicantly higher than that of aggressive-neglected
students. However, the percentage of prosocial-liked
students was signicantly higher than that of prosocial-
rejected students (Z = 3.87, p = .00, d = .50) and of prosocial-
neglected students (Z = 6.48, p = .00, d = .25), whereas the
proportion of prosocial-rejected students was higher than
that of prosocial-neglected students (Z = 3.25, p = .00, d
= .13). No statistically signicant differences were found
in the remaining comparisons among sociometric types in
adolescents with social anxiety and aggressive adolescents.
As a function of gender, the
Q statistics detected
statistically signicant differences in the prevalence rates
of sociometric types in prosocial boys (Q = 8.40, p = .02)
and boys with social anxiety (Q = 13, p = .00), as well as
in prosocial girls (Q = 39, p = .00). In addition, the results
indicated that the rate of prosocial-neglected boys was
signicantly lower than that of prosocial-liked boys (Z =
3.03, p = .00, d = .16) and prosocial-rejected boys (Z = 2.57,
p = .00, d = .13). Likewise, the proportion of rejected boys
with social anxiety was signicantly higher than that of
liked boys with social anxiety (Z = -2.21, p = .01, d = -.12)
and neglected boys with social anxiety (Z = 3.37, p = .00,
d = .18). Regarding the girls, the prevalence of prosocial-
liked girls was signicantly higher than that of prosocial-
neglected girls (Z = 5.62, p = .00, d = .31) and of prosocial-
rejected girls (Z= 3.91, p = .00, d = .22), and the rate of
prosocial-rejected girls was signicantly higher than that of
prosocial-neglected girls (Z = 2.20, p = .01, d = .12).
With regard to academic grade, the results revealed that
most of the prevalences of social interaction styles and
sociometric nomination were invariant across all the grades
analyzed. Nevertheless, the Q tests found statistically
signicant differences of a low magnitude (d < .33) in the
prevalences of prosocial students from 1
st
, 3
rd
, and 4
th
grade
of CSE. Specically, the prevalence of prosocial-liked
students was signicantly higher than that of: (a) prosocial-
neglected students in 1
st
grade of CSE (Z = 2.98, p = .00, d
= .22); (b) prosocial-neglected students (Z = 3.91, p = .00, d
= .31); (c) prosocial-rejected students (Z = 2.24, p = .01, d =
.18) in 3
rd
grade of CSE; and d) prosocial-neglected students
(Z = 2.30, p = .01, d = .33) and prosocial-rejected students
(Z = 2.57, p = .00, d = .23) in 4
th
grade of CSE. Likewise, the
prevalence of prosocial-rejected students was signicantly
higher than that of prosocial-neglected students in 1
st
grade
of CSE (Z = 2.25, p = .01, d = .16), 3
rd
grade of CSE (Z =
2.28, p = .01, d = .18), and 4
th
grade of CSE (Z = 4.17, p =
.00, d = .16).
Prediction of Social Interaction Styles
The criterion variables corresponding to the adolescents’
social interaction styles were dichotomized, categorizing
them by the above-mentioned cut-off points, in prosocial (n
= 69) and not prosocial (n = 144), aggressive (n = 93), and
not aggressive (n = 120), and with social anxiety (n = 51),
Page 5
PEER INTERACTION IN ADOLESCENCE
735
Table 1
Percentage (and Frequency) of Sociometric Types among Students with Social Anxiety, and Aggressive, and Prosocial Students
Note. SA = social anxiety;. N = 1349.
Table 2
Percentage (and Frequency) of Sociometric Types by Gender among Students with Social Anxiety, and Aggressive and Prosocial Students
Note. SA = social anxiety; boys: n = 652, girls: n = 652.
Sociometric types
Percentage (Frequency)
Interpersonal response styles
Statistical
signicance
SA-Aggressive SA-Prosocial Aggressive-Prosocial
SA Aggressive Prosocial Q p Z p d Z p d Z p d
Liked 1.3 (18) 2.9 (39) 3.6 (48) 16.34 .00 -2.89 .00 -.11 -3.87 .00 -.15 -1.03
ns
-
Rejected 1.6 (22) 2.6 (35) 1.3 (18) 8.46 .01 -1.81 .03 -.07 .64 ns - 2.43 .00 -.09
Neglected 0.8 (11) 1.4 (19) .2 (3) 14.77 .00 -1.49
ns
- 2.17 .01 -.06 3.47 .00 .14
Percentage (Frequency)
Statistical
signicance
SA-aggressive SA-prosocial Aggressive-prosocial
Sociometric
Types
SA Aggressive Prosocial Q p Z p d Z p d Z p d
Boys
Liked .6 (4) 3.6 (25) 1.3 (9) 24.06 .00 -3.92 .00 -.21 -1.36
ns
- 2.78 .00 .16
Rejected 1.9 (13) 3.3 (23) .9 (6) 14.60 .00 -1.65 .05 -.09 1.61 ns - 3.14 .00 .17
Neglected .1 (1) 1.7 (12) 0 (0) 22.17 .00 -3.11 .00 -.17 .70
ns
- 3.44 .00 .19
Girls
Liked 2.1 (14) 2.1 (14) 6 (39) 21.93 .00 .00 ns - -3.57 .00 -.14 -3.57 .00 -.14
Rejected 1.4 (9) 1.8 (12) 1.8 (12) .69 ns .- -. -. - - - -. - -
Neglected 1.5 (10) 1.1 (7) .5 (3) 5.29
ns
- - - - - - - - -
Page 6
INGLÉS, DELGADO, GARCÍA-FERNÁNDEZ, RUIZ-ESTEBAN, AND DÍAZ-HERRERO
736
Percentage (Frequency)
Statistical
signicance
SA-aggressive SA-prosocial Aggressive-prosocial
SA Aggressive Prosocial Q p Z p d Z p d Z p d
1
st
grade of
CSE
Liked 1 (4) 1.8 (7) 2.3 (9) 2.11
ns
- - - - - - - - -
n = 386 Rejected 2.1 (8) 3.1 (12) 1.3 (5) 5.29 ns - - - - - - - - -
Neglected .5 (2) 1.3 (5) 0 (0) 5.43 ns - - - - - - - - -
2
nd
grade of
CSE
Liked 1.5 (5) 3.7 (12) 2.2 (7) 4.11
ns
- - - - - - - - -
n = 325 Rejected .9 (3) 2.2 (7) 0.9 (3) 2.91 ns - - - - - - - - -
Neglected .9 (3) 1.5 (5) 0.6 (2) 2.00 ns - - - - - - - - -
3
rd
grade of
CSE
Liked 1.9 (6) 3.5 (11) 4.7 (15) 4.52
ns
- - - - - - - - -
n = 318 Rejected .9 (3) 3.8 (12) 1.6 (5) 8.38 .02 -2.40 .01 -.19 -0.79 ns - 1.72 .04 0.14
Neglected .9 (3) 1.6 (5) 0 (0) 2.00 ns - - - - - - - - -
4
th
grade of
CSE
Liked .9 (3) 2.8 (9) 5.3 (17) 12.87 .00 -1.77 .04 -.14 -3.20 .00 -.26 -1.60
ns
-
n = 320 Rejected 2.5 (8) 1.3 (4) 1.3 (5) 1.73 ns - - - - - - - - -
Neglected .9 (3) 1.6 (5) 0 (0) 7.60 .02 -0.80
ns
- 1.67 .05 .13 2.30 .01 0.18
Table 3
Percentage (and Frequency) of Sociometric Types by Academic Grade among Students with Social Anxiety, and Aggressive and Prosocial Students
Note. SA = social anxiety; CSE = Compulsory Secondary Education.
Page 7
PEER INTERACTION IN ADOLESCENCE
737
and without social anxiety (n = 120). Although the logistic
regression analyses did not allow us to create a model to
predict social anxiety, we obtained two regression models
to predict prosociability and aggressiveness. Thus, the
model created to predict prosociability allowed the correct
estimation of 83% of the cases χ
2
= 21.25, p = .00, with the
variables being neglected, liked, and rejected forming part
of the equation (see Table 4). Moreover, the model created
to predict aggressiveness allowed the correct estimation of
82.8% of the cases χ
2
= 4.83, p = .03) with the variable
being neglected forming part of the equation. In this sense,
the models obtained t values (R
2
Nagelkerke) of .03 and
.01, respectively.
The odds ratio (OR) obtained in the model that predicts
prosociability indicated that the liked students are 48%
more likely to be prosocial, whereas the neglected and
rejected adolescents are 79% and 41% less likely to
be prosocial, respectively. With regard to the model to
predict aggressiveness, the OR indicated that the neglected
adolescents were 90% more likely to be aggressive.
Prediction of Sociometric Types
In this case, the criterion variables were categorized by
means of the criteria proposed in the Program Socio: liked
(n = 105) and not liked (n = 108), rejected (n = 75) and not
rejected (n = 138), and neglected (n = 33) and not neglected (n
= 180). In addition, the predictor variables were dichotomized
as being or not being prosocial, being or not being aggressive,
and having or not having high social anxiety. Thus, we could
create three logistic models to predict the variables of being
chosen by the classmates as liked, rejected, and neglected
(see Table 4). The model created to predict being liked (or
popularity) allowed the correct estimation of 85.1% of the cases
(χ
2
= 7.41, p = .01), and the variable prosociability was entered
in the equation. With the variable predictor prosociability, the
model created to predict being rejected also allowed the correct
estimation of 88% of the cases (χ
2
= 4.93, p = .03). Lastly, the
model created to predict being neglected allowed the correct
estimation of 94.9% of the cases (χ
2
= 15.16, p = .00), and
the variables prosociability and aggressiveness were entered
in the equation. With regard to the t value of the models, we
obtained a Nagelkerke R
2
of .01 for the model of liked and
rejected and of .03 for that of neglected.
The ORs obtained in the models indicated that: (a) prosocial
adolescents are 67% more likely to be chosen as liked, 42%
less likely to be rejected, and 78% less likely to be neglected
by their classmates; (b) aggressive adolescents are 83% more
likely to be chosen as neglected by their classmates.
Criteria Predictor B SE
Wald
statistic
p OR CI 95%
Interpersonal behavior
Prosocial
Neglected -1.54 .60 6.63 .01 .21 .07-.69
Liked .39 .19 4.46 .03 1.48 1.03-2.14
Rejected -.52 .26 3.94 .05 .59 .35-.99
Constant -1.55 .09 319.05 .00 .21
Aggressive
Neglected .64 .28 5.29 .02 1.90 1.10-3.29
Constant -1.61 .07 46.99 .00 .20
Sociometric types
Liked
Prosocial .52 .18 7.86 .00 1.68 1.17-2.40
Constant -1.84 .09 449.06 .00 .16
Rejected
Prosocial -.55 .26 4.40 .04 .58 .35-.96
Constant -1.91 .09 459.53 .00 .15
Neglected
Prosocial -1.52 .59 6.51 .01 .22 .07-.01
Aggressive .58 .28 4.60 .03 1.83 1.05-.03
Constant -2.90 .15 385.30 .00 .05
Note. B = regression coefcient, SE = standard error, OR = odds ratio, CI = condence interval.
Table 4
Omnibus Tests and Results Derived from the Binary Logistic Regression for the Probability of being Prosocial, Aggressive,
Liked, Rejected, and Neglected
Page 8
INGLÉS, DELGADO, GARCÍA-FERNÁNDEZ, RUIZ-ESTEBAN, AND DÍAZ-HERRERO
738
Discussion
The purpose of the present study was to examine the
relation between social interaction styles (aggressiveness,
prosociability, and social anxiety) and sociometric types
(liked, rejected, and neglected) in a sample of Spanish
adolescents.
The results revealed that prosocial students were
proportionately chosen more by their classmates as liked
than students with social anxiety, partially conrming
the rst hypothesis, because, surprisingly, no statistically
signicant differences between the rate of liked-prosocial
adolescents (3.6%) and liked-aggressive adolescents
(2.9%) were obtained. This result could be explained in
two ways. Firstly, because of the discrepancy among the
measures of sociability and aggressiveness employed in
the present study (self-report measures) and those used
in previous studies (peer nomination). Secondly, the age
range of the students in this work (CSE) was different from
that analyzed in previous studies (Primary Education). In
this sense, it has been reported that aggressive behaviors
are more direct in infancy and preadolescence, and more
indirect in adolescence (Heilbron & Prinstein, 2008), which
could affect peers’ social preference. Bearing in mind both
these aspects, future work should include different sources
of assessment of social behavior (self-reports, peers,
teachers, and parents) to analyze inter-source concordance.
Moreover, future studies should be more precise in the
measure of aggressive behavior, assessing the diverse
forms of expression (physical, relational, and indirect) and
the reasons that cause it (proactive and reactive).
The rate of prosocial-liked students was signicantly
higher than that of prosocial-rejected and prosocial-
neglected students, in accordance with previous results,
where the prosocial students were more accepted and less
rejected by their classmates (García-Bacete, 2007; Muñoz
et al., 2008), and the most important reasons for liking a
classmate were positive and prosocial characteristics such
as fellowship, being nice, fun, and a good friend (Monjas
et al., 2008).
As established in the second hypothesis, aggressive
students were rejected the most by their classmates. These
results support those obtained in previous investigations
in which aggressive behaviors were signicant factors of
lower social acceptance and higher peer rejection (García-
Bacete, 2007; Monjas et al., 2008). Once again, these
results underline the importance of paying special attention
to this group of students because they have worse levels
of academic and family self-esteem and they display more
internalizing symptoms, becoming a high risk group for
academic maladjustment (Estévez, Herrero, Martínez, &
Musitu, 2006).
The students identied as having social anxiety were
the chosen as the least liked among their classmates, and
moreover, they were also rejected and neglected more than
the prosocial students. This result could be due to these
adolescents’ characteristic pattern of social interaction
because, in their attempts to avoid social situations, they are
more likely to be less visible, less valued, and rejected more
by their peers (Inderbitzen et al., 1997). In this sense, in
accordance with the proposal of Bukowski et al. (2007), it
seems that the characteristics that lead to an adolescent being
rejected not only depend on aggressiveness, but instead on
other predictor variables such as social anxiety, negative
emotions, lack of condence, lack of tolerance, isolation,
and the lack of prosocial and cooperative behaviors in
classroom may also intervene. Nevertheless, students with
social anxiety were rejected less than aggressive students,
thus conrming that aggressive and disruptive behaviors
are the most important reasons for rejecting a classmate,
whereas social withdrawal is a less relevant explanation of
peer rejection (Monjas et al., 2008).
Regarding the prevalence differences by gender, the
analyses revealed that aggressive boys were the most
highly represented in the three sociometric groups, with
the boys with social anxiety being the least liked and
the prosocial boys the least rejected and neglected.
Therefore, the results of this study provide new ndings
concerning previous studies because, although the studies
performed with both sexes found that rejected adolescents
were perceived as aggressive by their peers, and liked
adolescents were generally perceived as prosocial (García-
Bacete, 2007, Muñoz et al., 2008), the results of the present
study indicate that aggressive boys are equally nominated
as rejected, liked, and neglected. This result could be due
to the fact that aggressive students do not only have critics
but, in most cases, they also have a reduced support group
that reinforces their aggressive and deviant behaviors,
thus maintaining some degree of popularity. With regard
to the girls, the fact that the percentage of liked and
prosocial girls is higher than that of liked girls with social
anxiety and liked-aggressive girls reinforces the lines of
previous ndings that indicate a higher tendency in female
adolescents towards prosociability (Inglés et al., 2008),
empathy, and assertion, highly valued reasons for peer
acceptance (Monjas et al., 2008).
Regarding the differences in academic grade, this
study reveals some stability in the percentages of social
interaction styles and sociometric types, nding only
statistically signicant differences, similarly to the ndings
for the total sample, for the adolescents of the second cycle
of CSE. Thus, the rate of rejected and aggressive students
in 3
rd
grade of CSE was signicantly higher than that of
rejected students with prosocial characteristics and with
social anxiety. The prosocial adolescents were the most
popular in 1
st
, 3
rd
, and 4
th
grades of CSE and the least
neglected in 4
th
grade of CSE. This study indicates that
prosocial adolescents are more liked and less neglected. In
contrast, students with social anxiety from 4
th
grade of CSE
are signicantly less frequently chosen as liked than their
Page 9
PEER INTERACTION IN ADOLESCENCE
739
prosocial and aggressive classmates. This result reveals
the negative impact of behavioral inhibition on group
acceptance in adolescence, a stage with higher demands of
interaction and social openness (Bukowski et al., 2007).
Lastly, by means of logistic regression analyses, we
created ve predictive models with a high percentage
of correctly classied cases (82.8-94.9%), by which we
conrmed the predictive and reciprocal relation of social
interaction styles and adolescents’ reputation with their
classmates. As stated in the fourth hypothesis, adolescents’
prosocial behaviors were a protector factor against being
rejected and neglected, increasing the likelihood of being
liked by their peers. In contrast, adolescents’ aggressive
behaviors act as a positive predictor of being neglected by
their peers. Moreover, peer acceptance acted as a positive
predictor of prosocial behavior. In contrast, being rejected
and neglected by the peer group decreased the likelihood
of behaving cooperatively and prosocially. Likewise, being
neglected by the peer group was a positive predictor of
aggressive behaviors in the classroom. These ndings
conrm the predictive power of cooperative behaviors
in the classroom for acceptance and preference (Puckett
et al., 2008), and, more important, they identify relations
not previously analyzed, underlining the predictive role of
student’s status in the classroom for the display of socially
adaptive and maladaptive behaviors with the classmates.
Therefore, teachers and psychopedagogues could use
sociometric types as a tool to identify possible decits in
interpersonal skills.
The results of this investigation are important for two
reasons. Firstly, the study conrms the existence of a
signicant relation between social interaction styles and
the adolescent’s social position in the classroom, especially,
between prosociability and popularity and aggressiveness
and rejection. However, upon examining in more depth the
connection between the latter two variables, a pure relation
between sociometric type and social interaction style is
not found. Thus, there is a high percentage of aggressive
students who are chosen as neglected by their classmates.
Secondly, the results of this work reveal the importance of
the variable gender when relating and being liked, rejected,
or neglected by the peer group in adolescence. In this sense,
and along the lines of previous research (García-Bacete,
et al., 2008; Pakaslahti et al., 2002), aggressiveness in
boys and isolation and prosociability in girls considerably
establish their social status among their classmates.
Despite the fact that prosociability is more frequent
among adolescents (Inglés et al., 2008), this study reveals
the existence of a high percentage of students who are at risk
in the classroom (rejected and neglected), who need support
and professional intervention to improve their psychosocial
adjustment. Likewise, efforts should be made to apply and
assess programs aimed at promoting behaviors that could
substantially improve adolescents’ sociometric status.
The results of the study should be interpreted taking
into account some limitations, which could be remedied
in future research. Firstly, the diverse groups of neglected
and rejected students should be analyzed (Estévez et al.,
2006; Inderbitzen et al., 1997), as well as the average
and controversial sociometric categories, because the
omission of these analyses could lead to incomplete results
when classifying the students in a certain sociometric
type. In addition, as indicated above, future research
should use tests that differentiate the diverse types of
aggressiveness because they can affect sociometric
status differentially, through adolescents gender and age.
Likewise, longitudinal studies should be carried out during
the entire pupil age to establish causal relations among
variables, using the structural equation modelling. Social
functioning in the classroom should also be analyzed,
taking into account additional sources of information
(for example, teachers and parents), as well as teachers’
beliefs and attitudes about their students social behavior,
and about the cultural and contextual characteristics of
the assessment environment, because these variables can
act as important mediators in students’ sociometric choice
(Bukowski et al., 2007).
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Page 11
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