Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Sex and Age Differences in Social Withdrawal of Pre-Service Teachers in A Nigerian University

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Sex and Age Differences in Social Withdrawal of Pre-Service Teachers in A Nigerian University

Article excerpt

Social withdrawal has been defined as the consistent display of all forms of solitaiy behaviour when encountering familiar and/or unfamiliar peers across situations and over time (Rubin & Asendorpf, 1993; Rubin & Coplan, 2004). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - version IV (DSM-1V, APA, 2010) defined social withdrawal as an anxiety disorder which is characterized by a strong and persistent fear of social or performance situation in which an individual feels embarrassment or humiliation and in order to avoid such situation the individual concerned isolates himself from all social gathering and functions.

Pre-service teachers are student teachers who are currently undergoing training to become teachers. They are basically exposed to pedagogical training with the hope of graduating to become professional teachers. It is of necessity to examine the psychological construct of social withdrawal among this population because of the role they play in modelling and impacting the lives of the students they will eventually teach as teachers. Luna (2013) commented that the importance of teachers cannot be overemphasised in that they do not only pass on knowledge and values in eveiy generation, they also play crucial roles in developing and touching lives; they are pillars of a sound and progressive society; they have long lasting impact on students, build their future and mold them with knowledge and values to prepare them for working life and to become good citizens.

It follows that teachers must therefore be good models for their students. A teacher who is socially withdrawn will be a potentially wrong model for the students.

Pre-service teachers have been the focus of this study because they are still undergoing training and it might be easy to effect changes and corrections on a large scale. The case may be different for in-service teachers, who have graduated from school and have started teaching, it may not be possible to get them together and effect a behavioural change as it would have been if they were still in school, hence the need to focus on pre-service teachers.

For a long time, the phenomenon of solitude has been of great interest to psychologists, philosophers, writers and artists; as such, several opinions have been expressed about social withdrawal (Rubin; Burgess and Coplan, 1998). These authors also noted that developmental psychopathology has maladjustment into two major categories, which are: undercontrol (e.g., aggression) and over-control (e.g., social withdrawal) yet, it remains the case that the developmental course of psychological over-control problems has received relatively less research attention than that of psychological under-control problems. One example of such understudied psychological over-control difficulties is social withdrawal, which is the focus of this study.

Social withdrawal has been recognized as a complex and multifaceted construct that varies with regards to motivational tendencies and developmental consequences in early life (Coplan, Parakash, O'Neil, & Armer, 2004; Rubin, Coplan & Bowker, 2009). Adolescents who have been characterised as socially withdrawn spend most of their time alone and on the periphery of the social scene, due to shyness or social anxiety (Oh; Rubin; Bowker; Booth-LaForce; RoseKrasnor & Laursen, 2008). Importantly, social withdrawal has been shown to be moderately stable from early through middle childhood (Hymel, Rubin, Rowden and Lemare, 1990; Rubin, Coplan, & Bowker, 2009) and from late childhood through early adolescence (Schneider, Richard, Younger, & Freeman, 2000).

Social withdrawal has been identified as a risk factor for psychosocial maladjustment (Rubin, Burgess, Kennedy, & Stewart, 2003), and has been found to be associated with low self-esteem, negative self-perceptions of social competence, and anxiety (Hymel et al. 1993; Rubin et al. 1993). In addition to the aforementioned, researchers have also established that social withdrawal during childhood predicts such problems as depression and loneliness in early adolescence (Gazelle & Ladd 2003; Gazelle & Rudolph, 2004; Rubin et al. …

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