Linking relational victimization and relational aggression : the mediating role of hostile attributional bias in 4th and 5th grade children




Yeung, Rachel Stacey

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Previous research on peer victimization and aggression has provided some insight into the development and maintenance of physical aggression, but less is known about the processes involved in relational aggression. This short-term longitudinal study examined the direct association between relational victimization and relational aggression over a: five-month period, and proposed that hostile attributional bias for relational provocations was one mechanism linking relational victimization and relational aggression. Gender differences in the levels of relational victimization and aggression, hostile attributions, and physical victimization and aggression were explored. Participants included 140 elementary school children in grades four and five. Relational victimization and relational aggression were assessed from children's self-reports of how often they experienced relational victimization and how often they demonstrated relationally aggressive behaviors toward others respectively. Hostile intent attributions were measured from children's responses to five hypothetical peer provocation situations that depicted relational provocations (e.g., the child looks for a friend because they have an important secret to share with them, but finds that their friend is already playing with someone else that the child does not like very much). Concurrent and longitudinal findings revealed that more relationally victimized children were also more relationally aggressive toward their peers. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that hostile attributions partially mediated the association between relational victimization and relational aggression concurrently, but the mediating effect was not stable over time. Boys reported significantly higher levels of physical victimization. physical aggression, and relational aggression than girls. No significant gender differences for relational victimization or hostile attributions were revealed. Implications for the development of prevention programs are discussed.



interpersonal conflict, bullying, children