The effect of social support, and peer rejection on working memory performance in middle school


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Introduction: Evidence is accumulating that working memory performance and development, which is important for children's learning, does not only influence social experiences, but also can be altered and influenced by social experiences. Specifically, positive social interactions with peers, teachers and parents may promote working memory, while negative interactions with these important social actors may hinder working memory. The current study, by using an experimental approach, investigates whether parent and teacher support buffer the negative effect of peer rejection on working memory performance.
Method: Children from seventh to ninth grade (aged 11–15, n=151) filled out questionnaires and completed an experiment. Working memory performance (Spatial Span (SSP)) was measured at the beginning of the experiment. Next, peer rejection was manipulated (Cyberball Task), followed by a manipulation of parent and teacher support (video / audio message) and a posttest measure of working memory.
Result: Our results demonstrated no main effect of peer rejection and parent or teacher support (F=1.15, p=.284). Social acceptance did moderate the buffering effect of teacher support for working memory performance (F=7.44, p=.007). Meaning, for children who score at the high end of the perceived social acceptance scale, teacher support seems to have a positive effect, while working memory performance is stable in the control conditions.
Discussion: Although experiences of social rejection may have negative impacts on children's social and emotional functioning, results of the current study suggest that in general there is no difference in working memory performance before and after a single experience of social exclusion by an unknown peer. Results do indicate that for children who feel socially accepted a supportive teacher can promote working memory performance. So teachers should be aware of the role of their relational support for children's cognition and learning. As such, schools should be aware of the importance of social factors for children's cognitive functioning and learning and incorporate actions to assure a positive social environment within the school and classroom contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2019
Event8th Neuroscience Congress - Tehran, Iran, Islamic Republic of
Duration: 18 Dec 201920 Dec 2019


Conference8th Neuroscience Congress
Country/TerritoryIran, Islamic Republic of


  • Working memory
  • Peer rejection
  • Teacher-child relationship
  • Parent-child relationship
  • Relational support


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of social support, and peer rejection on working memory performance in middle school'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this