Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Social phobia; Anxiety in adolescence; Peer pressure in adolescence;


Social withdrawal is most frequently described in the literature as a form of social maladjustment characterized by a lack of prosocial and cooperative behaviors combined with shyness, anxiety, and oversensitivity leading to withdrawal from social interactions and avoidance of the peer group. Social withdrawal can lead to rejection by the peer group, with the assumption being that peers would not necessarily reject the socially withdrawn student if the child interacted appropriately in social situations. The opposite, however, may also be true. The rejection by peers may be the cause of the social withdrawal. This study focuses on an adolescent who should be able to function well in social settings, yet has withdrawn from his peer group. In this situation, actions of the peer group, more than anxieties of the socially withdrawn student may have created the withdrawal. This student desires interactions with peers, but reports that he is hindered by past peer rejection and reluctance to initiate interactions and face further social failure. The focus student is observed in his classes and interviewed regarding the relationships he has with peers. Four of the student's teachers are interviewed regarding their perceptions of the student's experience and peers are also interviewed to investigate their views of peer relationships at the school. The purpose of this research is to better understand the ramifications of social withdrawal for the student, how this student is perceived and perceives himself in the school environment, and the possible environmental factors that impacted his situation. From an examination of the interview and observational data two themes emerged: First, the focus student's perspective and perceived causes for his situation were markedly discrepant from those expressed by his peers and teachers. Whereas he felt that his social withdrawal was a reaction to negative treatment by his peers, peers and teachers considered his withdrawal to be caused by the focus student. Second, peers and teachers located the cause for the withdrawal in the focus student's lack of effort to join in activities of his peer group. In particular peers and teachers made mention of the paucity of common interests shared by the focus student and his peers, specifically athletic endeavors. This study illustrates how a number of individuals, all involved in the same situation of social withdrawal, may have very different perspectives on the causes of the withdrawal. The study points to a need to further explore the multiple viewpoints of individuals in regard to beliefs about causes of and effective solutions to social withdrawal.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

First Advisor

Elana Joram


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to scholarworks@uni.edu and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (100 leaves)



File Format


Included in

Education Commons