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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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167. Rejection sensitivity and peer stress: Longitudinal associations with depression in youth

Rejection sensitivity and peer stress are both associated with later increases in depression; however, these risks have not been examined in interaction using a longitudinal design in youth. The present analysis examined the interaction of rejection sensitivity and peer stress to predict change of depressive symptoms three years later. Participants included 416 youth (M= 11.8, SD= 2.4; 55% female). The Children’s Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire and the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) were administered at baseline, and the CDI was administered 36 months later. Objective episodic peer stress exposure was assessed with Hammen’s Youth Life Stress Interview; youth were interviewed for peer stressor exposure every six months over the three years. There was a 3-way interaction among rejection sensitivity, peer stress, and gender, F(1, 406) = 6.01, p = .01, such that high rejection sensitivity and high peer stress predicted increases in depressive symptoms for boys, b = 0.25, p =.01 but not girls. Results provide support for a vulnerability-stress model for boys, as high rejection sensitivity experienced increases in depression only if they also experienced high peer stress. For girls, rejection sensitivity and peer stress both predict future depressive symptoms.

Kathleen C McCormick
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Elissa J Hamlat
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Jami F Young
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Benjamin L Hankin
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


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