DOI: 10.1111/sode.12704 ISSN:

Chinese adolescents’ attitudes and beliefs about shy, unsociable, and socially avoidant peers

Linlin Zhang, Qinghua Zhao
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Peers play an important role in socially withdrawn adolescents’ adjustment. Using a dyadic peer‐rating approach, this study examined adolescents’ attitudes and beliefs about real‐world, rather than hypothetical, subtypes of socially withdrawn peers. Data were drawn from 274 adolescents (Mage = 13.23 years, SD = .68; 52% boys) from rural China. Adolescents rated each classmate's withdrawal motivation (shyness, unsociability, and social avoidance) and attitudes and beliefs about each classmate, including affiliative preference, social acceptance, prosocial orientation, teacher liking, negative impact, and learning problems. Results indicated that adolescents had pervasive negative perceptions of socially avoidant peers on all the outcomes except for teacher liking, and occasionally negative perceptions of shy peers, including low social acceptance and more learning problems. In contrast, adolescents did not perceive unsociable peers differently compared to non‐withdrawn peers. Gender differences were found only for social avoidance with avoidant girls occasionally eliciting more negative perceptions than avoidant boys. These findings uncovered the complexity of young adolescents’ perceptions of socially withdrawn peers in rural China and highlight the need for more efforts to support the healthy development of socially avoidant adolescents.