Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Timothy A. Cavell

Committee Member

Ana J. Bridges

Second Committee Member

Douglas A. Behrend


Children, Depression, Internalizing Symptoms, Lunchroom, Peer Acceptance, School, Social Anxiety


There is evidence to suggest that the context of the school lunchrooms provides children with rich opportunities for enhancing or hampering the quality of their relationships (Craig, Gregus, Elledge, Pastrana, & Cavell, 2016; Steggerda et al., in preparation). Although past research has linked children’s peer acceptance to their level of internalizing symptoms, few studies have examined peer acceptance within the lunchroom context. This study extends that work by examining associations between lunchroom peer acceptance (assessed via self- and peer-reports) and children’s internalizing symptoms. Participants were 676 fourth-grade students (50.7% female; 42.7% Hispanic/Latino, 30.3% White, 10% Pacific Islander, and 17% other) from 10 public schools. I hypothesized that self-reported lunchroom peer acceptance would predict children’s internalizing symptoms over and above peer ratings of lunchroom peer acceptance as well as over more traditional measures of classroom-based social preference. As expected, self-rated lunchtime liking in the fall semester significantly predicted both depressive and social anxiety symptoms in the spring semester of one school year; these predictions were similar for boys versus girls. Implications of findings and future directions for research are discussed.