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The association of caregivers’ and children’s characteristics with children’s social preference and being a class leader in China

Abstract Children’s social status in China includes both informal (e.g., social preference) and formal (e.g., class leader) statuses. This study examines the associations among caregivers’ characteristics, children’s characteristics, children’s social preference, and being a class leader by using multiple sources of information (caregiver reports, self‐ratings, sociometric methods, and achievement data). The participants were 1,926 fourth‐ to ninth‐ graders (Mage = 12.7; 49.7% males) and their primary caregivers. The caregivers’ characteristics were found to be related more closely to class leader than to social preference. Both higher children’s interpersonal character and academic achievement were associated with higher social preference and class leader; however, academic achievement showed stronger relationships with both types of status than interpersonal character. The children’s characteristics mediated the associations between caregivers’ characteristics and children’s social statuses. The grade difference test showed that interpersonal character had a stronger association with social preference, and academic achievement had a stronger association with class leader in secondary school than in primary school. The results suggest that children’s characteristics (especially academic achievement) are strongly related to Chinese children’s social preference and being a class leader. In addition, the potential role of caregivers’ characteristics and the influence of child age are noteworthy.

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