Social identity, peer group rejection, and young children's reactive, displaced, and proactive aggression

Br J Dev Psychol. 2011 Nov;29(Pt 4):823-41. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-835X.2010.02012.x. Epub 2011 Jan 6.


The effects of peer group rejection on 7- and 9-year-old children's (N= 192) reactive, displaced, and proactive aggression were examined in a group simulation study. Children were assigned membership in a pretend social group for a drawing competition and were then rejected or accepted by their group. Their direct and indirect aggressive intentions towards either the ingroup or outgroup were assessed. Analysis of their aggressive intentions revealed enhanced indirect aggression but less direct aggression. Peer group rejection, in comparison with acceptance, instigated reactive aggression towards the ingroup, and displaced reactive aggression towards the outgroup. Accepted children displayed proactive aggression towards the outgroup but not the ingroup. The implications of the findings for peer group rejection and aggression research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aggression / physiology
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Anger / physiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / physiology
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Rejection, Psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Identification*
  • Social Perception