Leiden Psychology Blog

Using brain scans to peer into the social world of adolescence

Using brain scans to peer into the social world of adolescence Still of the video

Peers serve an important function in social, emotional and cognitive development. The peer world provides unique and important opportunities for fundamental socialization experiences ranging from the very sweet to the extremely bitter. Video blog.

Reactions to exclusion are intensified

Peers can offer joy, companionship, and support in times of stress, but also, criticism, conflict, and rejection (Bukowksi et al., 2011). Events such as being excluded from a group activity are distressing and can have detrimental consequences for well-being. Although social exclusion is a distressing experience across the lifespan (Williams, 2007), adolescence has been hypothesized to be a developmental period during which reactions to exclusion are intensified.

Do all adolescents react to social exclusion in the same way?

During adolescence concerns about fitting in with the peer group peak (O’Brien & Bierman, 1988) and the failure to integrate oneself in a network of peers both reflects and precedes serious adjustment difficulties, e.g. social withdrawal, loneliness, or depressive symptoms (Boivin et al., 1995; Prinstein & Aikins, 2004). But, do all adolescents react to social exclusion in the same way? Or does the way that adolescents respond to social exclusion vary as a function of prior positive or negative experiences in the peer group during childhood? During his PhD research, Geert-Jan Will examined such questions. He talks about some of the most exciting findings from his doctoral work, in this video (in Dutch).

PhD Defence

G.J. Will - Acceptance, Rejection, and the Social Brain in Adolescence: Toward a Neuroscience of Peer Relations

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