A developmental investigation of social aggression among children

Dev Psychol. 1997 Jul;33(4):589-600. doi: 10.1037//0012-1649.33.4.589.


Social aggression consists of actions directed at damaging another's self-esteem, social status, or both, and includes behaviors such as facial expressions of disdain, cruel gossipping, and the manipulation of friendship patterns. In Study 1, 4th, 7th, and 10th graders completed the Social Behavior Questionnaire; only boys viewed physical aggression as more hurtful than social aggression, and girls rated social aggression as more hurtful than did boys. In the 1st phase of Study 2, girls participated in a laboratory task in which elements of social-aggression were elicited and reliably coded. In the 2nd phase of Study 2, another sample of participants (elementary, middle, and high school boys and girls) viewed samples of socially aggressive behaviors from these sessions. Girls rated the aggressor as more angry than boys, and middle school and high school participants viewed the socially aggressive behaviors as indicating more dislike than elementary school children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Perception