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Extracurricular activities in early adolescence : links with peer group acceptance and belongingness Connor, Judy Eleanor

Abstract

One construct that has received a great deal of attention in the literature on adolescent loneliness is that of group acceptance. Past studies have shown that children who are not well-accepted by their peers generally experience more loneliness and more social dissatisfaction than their better-accepted agemates. Previous research, however, has only begun to discern the complexity of the factors assumed to be responsible for the link between peer acceptance and loneliness. For instance, are there different ways in which a child can be lonely? The purpose of the present investigation is to examine the relations among peer acceptance, and friendship status using a multidimensional approach to loneliness. Two different loneliness measures were used. The first assessment tool was an overall measure of loneliness (ILQ). The second measure (RPLQ) included several dimensions of loneliness whereby the two peer subscales were utilized - intimacy and belongingness. In addition, participation in extracurricular activities was examined to discern its contribution to adolescent loneliness and to investigate whether being involved in activities staves off feelings of loneliness. Accordingly, 419 students (210 girls, 209 boys) in grades 6 and 7 participated in the study. Findings revealed that low-accepted adolescents reported higher levels of loneliness, and lower levels of belongingness and intimacy. Girls reported significantly higher levels of intimacy than did boys. For boys only, participation in extracurricular activities was significantly associated with the three dimensions of loneliness, peer acceptance and friendship status. Findings for girls yielded the same significant results except that girls who were highly-involved in extracurricular activities did not report having more friendships. For both boys and girls, being involved in extracurricular activities predicted feelings of belongingness. Moreover, participation in extracurricular activities predicted higher levels of intimacy for boys but not for girls. Overall, findings suggest that loneliness may be multidimensional in nature and that different types of relationships such as friendship, peer acceptance and group affiliation predicts loneliness outcomes separately.

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