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The present study examined the academic antecedents of declining peer social status. Participants included 545 (311 boys, 234 girls) Finnish students followed from the 1st through the 4th grade (ages 6-8 at outset). Each year, teachers completed assessments of academic task avoidance and students completed standardized measures of reading and math achievement. Acceptance was assayed through peer nominations. Supporting the hypothesized model, the results indicated that a lack of interest and motivation at the outset of primary school leads to a downward spiral of academic difficulties and diminished peer acceptance. Specifically, academic task avoidance in 1st and 2nd grade anticipated declining math and reading achievement one year later, which in turn, anticipated decreases in peer acceptance the following year. The findings held after controlling for factors known to contribute to school and peer difficulties, such as friendlessness, school readiness, and emotional and behavioral problems.


Brett Laursen, Ashley Richmond, Noona Kiuru, Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen, Anna-Maija Poikkeus. Off on the Wrong Foot: Task Avoidance at the Outset of Primary School Anticipates Academic Difficulties and Declining Peer Acceptance. The European journal of developmental psychology. 2022;19(4):601-615

PMID: 36172010

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