Do physical abuse, cumulative risk, and hostile attribution bias predict the quality of peer relationships during early adolescence? An examination of high-risk youth

Open Access
Culotta, Carmen M.
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 17, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Koraly Elisa Perez Edgar, Dissertation Advisor
  • Kristin Buss, Committee Member
  • Sandra T Azar, Committee Member
  • Mayra Y Bamaca, Committee Member
  • physical abuse
  • peer relationships
  • hostile attribution bias
  • cumulative risk
The present study examines the peer relationships of physically abused early adolescents and their non-abused, sociodemographically matched counterparts (n = 200). We tested whether proximal and distal cumulative risk factors predict self-reported closeness and conflict with best friends and peer acquaintances. We also examined one of the cognitive correlates of physical abuse, hostile attribution bias, as a potential mechanism for any observed relation between proximal and distal cumulative risk and our outcome variables. Results from path analyses reveal differences between the physical abuse and the control group in that distal cumulative risk negatively predicted best friend closeness among the physical abuse group only. There were no mediational effects of hostile attribution bias, although hostile attribution bias negatively predicted acquaintance closeness among the abuse group only. Contrary to our expectations, proximal cumulative risk was not a significant predictor of any of our dependent variables, nor did we find any significant predictors for best friend conflict or acquaintance conflict. Overall, the findings suggest distal cumulative risk and hostile attribution bias may negatively impact physically abused children’s perceived closeness, but not conflict, with best friends and acquaintances.