Project Report

The main purpose of this research is to examine the attributes and adjustment of differentially withdrawn young adolescents in China. The total sample comprised of 201 young adolescents (68 males, 133 females; M age = 13.87 years). In order to understand the nature of different subtypes of withdrawal, an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with Promax rotation was first conducted on item measures of withdrawal subtypes (Child Social Preference Scale- Revised; Bowker & Raja, 2010; Social Withdrawal Scale, Rubin, 2001). Results demonstrated that contrary to previous research on withdrawal subtypes in adolescence (e.g., Bowker & Raja, 2010), in which a three-factor solution was found to be the most appropriate (Unsociability, Shyness, Avoidance), a four-factor solution was found to be the most appropriate (Shyness, Avoidance, Low Approach, Healthy Solitude) in the current sample. A Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) was conducted within LISREL to further examine the adequacy of the factor structures. Results demonstrated the model to have good fit χ2 = 198.48, RMSEA = 0.056. Further, all loadings from the item measures to the latent constructs were significant. This demonstrates the adequacy of the structures for the four withdrawal factors. Interestingly, no factor for "Unsociability" was found, demonstrating the previous measures used to measure this construct, which were developed with Western populations, may not be appropriate to capture this specific dimension of withdrawal in Eastern population. Next, in order to examine the relations beteween different subtypes of withdrawal and adjustmnet, SEM analyses were conducted. Internalizing outcomes were constructed using items from the questionnaires. More specifically, the latent construct of Anxiety and the latent construct of Depression were created from subscale scores. All measures used had adequate reliability and validity. Analyses proceeded in a two-step approach in which a CFA was first tested to examine the adequacy of the relations between the item indicators to the latent factors. Then, the structural portion of the model was tested. In order to examine the relations between withdrawal and adjustment difficulties, with-in group constraints were imposed on each structural relation. If the model fit significantly worse, then this would provide evidence of differential relations between subtypes of withdrawal and adjustment. Results reveleaed that the final model had good fit, χ2 = 132.78, RMSEA = 0.056, CFI = 0.99. More specifically, Shyness, Avoidance, and Low Approach were all significantly and positively associated with Depression in Chinese young adolescents (p < 0.001). There were no differences in the magnitude of the relations between the three subtypes of withdrawal. In addition, results revealed that Shyness was significantly and positively associated with Anxiety in Chinese young adolescents (p < 0.001), while Avoidance and Low Approach were marginally associated with Anxiety (p = 0.06). Shyness was found to be significantly more associated with Anxiety in Chinese young adolescents than Avoidance and Low Approach. Ultimately, the present study provides evidence that despite underlying differences between subtypes, social withdrawal puts young adolescents at risk for adjustment difficulties.These results are mostly consistent with past research demonstrating the links between social withdrawal and maladjustment across development in Western cultures. Contrary to previous studies (e.g., Bowker & Raja, 2010; Coplan & Weeks, 2010), however, "Unsociability" or Low Approach (as conceptualized in this study) is not without costs. Low Approach was just as associated with Depression as the other withdrawal subtypes of Shyness and Avoidance in the present study, demonstrating withdrawing from the world may put youth at risk for maladjustment. The finding that Shyness was more significantly associated with Anxiety compared with Avoidance and Low Approach provide evidence for previous theories and research postulating anxiety to be the main underlying mechanism behind Shyness. Similarly, the finding also provides evidence for previous theories and research postulating non-fear related reasons (e.g., low social desire; high need to be alone) to be the main underlying mechanisms behind one’s preference for solitude. The finding that Avoidance and Low Approach did not differ in their relations to Anxiety and Depression suggest that the two constructs, though relatively distinct, may put youth at similar risks for adjustment difficulties. Future research should examine whether the two types of "preference for solitude" might merge into one general type of social withdrawal later in development. Despite significant differences in cultural values, results demonstrate that across cultures, social withdrawal appears to be a risk factor for adjustment difficulties in youth. Future research should examine potential crosscultural differences between subtypes of withdrawal and youth adjustment.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
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Carter Kimsey
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Wang Jennifer
United States
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