Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

1-1-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Jina S. Yoon

Abstract

ABSTRACT

RELATIONAL AGGRESSION AND POPULARITY

by

LISA WOODCOCK-BURROUGHS

May 2012

Advisor: Dr. Jina Yoon, Ph.D.

Major: Educational Psychology

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

The purpose of this study was to examine the relation between perceived popularity, sociometric popularity and relational aggression across a wide age span, and to investigate gender differences across different stages of development. Students (n = 99) in grades 3 through 12, from a rural school district in mid-Michigan, participated in the study. Data were collected during the 2010-2011 school year.

Statistically significant within gender differences were found for relational and overt aggression, indicating that males exhibited higher levels of overt than relational aggression and females exhibited higher levels of relational than overt aggression. No statistically significant between gender differences were found for relational aggression. There was a statistically significant between gender difference for overt aggression, indicating that males are more overtly aggressive than are females. A statistically significant interaction effect was identified for aggression type by school level, suggesting that secondary level students exhibit more relational than overt aggression. When looking at relational aggression levels by popularity type and school level, statistically significant main effects were identified for sociometric and perceived popularity, indicating that individuals who are high on sociometric popularity exhibit low levels of relational aggression while persons with either high or low levels of perceived popularity exhibit elevated levels of relational aggression. No interaction effects were identified.

A reaction measure indicated that children of all perceived and sociometric popularity status groups were equally likely to be complimented, teased, or have their feelings hurt as a result of the study; however, results also indicate that very few students experienced undesirable outcomes as a result of study participation.

Little research to date has investigated differences in relational aggression levels, or the relationship between popularity status types and aggressive strategies, across such a wide age span. Far less research has actively investigated the effects of participation in a peer nomination task. The study provides support for the importance of research addressing the link between aggressive strategies and popularity status as well as the importance of research examining the effects of participation in peer nomination research.

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