Peer Acceptance and Friendship as Predictors of Early Adolescents' Adjustment Across the Middle School Transition


This study examines several aspects of adolescents' pretransition peer relationships as predictors of their adjustment to middle school. Participants were 365 students (175 boys; 99% Caucasian) involved in the Time 1 (the spring of fifth grade) and Time 2 (the fall of sixth grade) assessments. Adolescents completed measures that assessed peer acceptance, number of friends, the quality of a specific mutual friendship, loneliness, depression, self-esteem, and involvement in school. Academic achievement and absentee data were obtained from student files. Regression analyses indicated that the pretransition peer variables predicted post-transition loneliness, self-esteem, school involvement, and academic achievement. The patterns of prediction varied slightly for each adjustment variable, with the most robust relationship being between peer acceptance and achievement. Results of repeated-measures MANOVAs indicated no differential changes in adjustment across time by gender. Implications for including a peer component in programs that prepare students for the middle school transition are discussed.