October 21, 2013

Recalled victimization, social support, and long term effects on self-criticism.

This post is by one of my current final year dissertation students, Gillian Scanlan. Thanks to Gillian for summarising this paper, she did a great job.

Kopala-Sibley, D. C., Zuroff, D. C., Leybman, M. J., & Hope, N. (2013). Recalled peer relationship experiences and current levels of self-criticism and self-reassurancePsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 86, 33-51.

This study set out to identify if recalled levels of parental support, peer support and peer victimization were related to college students’ levels of self-criticism and self-reassurance in their present life. The researchers were specifically interested in whether the effects upon young adults of being bullied from the ages of 10-14 were different according to their levels of recalled social support from both parents and peers.

This study involved 200 college students aged 18 to 25 years old. Participants were given a series of questionnaires that measured current levels of self-criticism as well as recalled relationships with parents and peers. The recalled relationship with parents and peers were to be reported specifically when the participants were between the ages of 10-14.

Victimization and Prosocial Behaviour: Men recalled experiencing higher levels of physical victimization, e.g. being hit or punched by another peer, than women did.  Women reported that their peers showed more acts of kindness and concern for them when they were bullied.

Parental support: Increased level of support from both parents was found to be associated with lower levels of self-hating and reduced feelings of unworthiness. Increased support from parents also increased confidence and self-assurance of a victim. Those who recalled higher current levels of maternal care or higher levels of kindness and concern reported higher levels of self-assurance.

Roles of peer relationships: Those who recalled more physical victimization (regardless of gender) reported higher levels of self-criticism, self-hate and lower levels of self-assurance. People who recalled experiencing more kindness and concern from peers during a bullying incident in childhood reported lower levels of self-hatred and higher levels of self-reassurance in their current life.

These results are interesting as it appears that the increased social support a person receives in both their home environment and their peer environment helps to create feelings of positivity and self-assurance, thus allowing a confident young adult to emerge. The results furthermore show that low social support from both parents when being victimized can have long term psychological effects upon a person’s emotional well-being when they get into adulthood.


Overall, this study highlights the importance of good peer relationships and parental care. It would appear from the findings that having kind and supportive peers and parents from childhood plays an integral role in helping to reduce the stress of negative social events. 

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