Objectives. Social behaviour was investigated as a contributor to the peer acceptance of children with chronic illness. We predicted that children with illness would receive less acceptance than children without illness, and that prosocial behaviour would improve acceptance, while aggressive behaviour would hamper it. Based upon attribution and cognitive bias theories, we also predicted that prosocial behaviour would be more beneficial and aggressive behaviour less damaging to the acceptance of children with illness compared to healthy children. Design. A 3 (social behaviour: prosocial, aggressive, no information) × 2 (physical status: chronically ill, healthy) within-subjects analogue design was used. Methods. Preadolescents (N=149) indicated social acceptance of hypothetical children portrayed in vignettes as either chronically ill or healthy with prosocial, aggressive, or no social behaviour. A 13-item social intentions scale gauged acceptance. Results. The hypotheses were supported. Although children described as ill received lower acceptance ratings than healthy children, prosocial/ill children were more accepted than aggressive/ill children. Social behaviour interacted with physical status to affect acceptance. Conclusions. Social behaviour influences the peer acceptance of hypothetical children with chronic illness. Prosocial behaviour enhances acceptance of children described with illness, while aggressive behaviour hampers it. Additionally, prosocial behaviour is more beneficial, and aggressive behaviour is less damaging for children described as ill versus healthy. The potential processes by which peers judge acceptance of children with illness are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Psychology