Peer Victimization and Its Adverse Effects on Self-Schema in Children and Adolescents
Our current study builds on Beck’s cognitive model of depression by testing whether peer victimization gives rise to depressive schemas in children and adolescents. Specifically, we created a model stating that chronic peer victimization affects the construction of self-cognitions and adds negative information to the content of self-schema, in turn predisposing for depression. Stemming from a larger 2-year, 3-wave longitudinal study, our experimental study yielded a sample of elementary and middle children who were either chronically peer victimized (n = 110) or those who were not (n = 105). Using self-reports and a self-referent encoding task, this study yielded four major findings: (1) all forms of chronic peer victimization were positively associated with students’ self-reported negative self-cognitions, (2) all forms of peer victimization were negatively related to students’ self-reported positive self-cognitions, (3) relational and verbal peer victimization were related to a decrease in or eradication of the positive memorial bias, and (4) the association between peer victimization and some indicators of depressive self-schemas was stronger for relational and verbal peer victimization than for physical peer victimization. Clinical implications and future research are also elaborated upon in this study.