Literature reviews indicate that children with disruptive behaviour disorders have peer relationship problems, but little information is available concerning the differential effects of hyperactivity and conduct disorder on peer relationships. Using a database from North of England research, this paper uses standard frequency analysis complemented by multivariate analyses to explore the independent effects of pervasive hyperactivity and conduct disorder on the sociometry of peer relations among 7- to 8- and 11- to 12-year-olds. The findings suggest that (a) social isolation in 7-8-year-olds shows no significant association with hyperactivity. However there is a significant association with conduct disorder in 11-12-year-olds. (b) Rejection is not significantly associated with hyperactivity alone nor with conduct disorder alone in 7-8-year-olds. However, it is associated with a combination of hyperactivity and conduct disorder. In 11-12-year-olds rejection is associated with conduct disorder alone and with conduct disorder and hyperactivity in combination. It is also associated with low cognitive ability alone and in combination with conduct disorder. Overall, these findings provide some limited evidence of adverse sociometric responses to both hyperactivity and below average cognitive ability. However, in the at-risk samples analysed here, conduct disorder emerges as the most powerful independent predictor of isolation and rejection, and this is especially so among older children.
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