In contrast to the view that the association between aggression and competence (i.e., the capacity to compete in the company of others) is negative and linear, the present papers indicate that (a) children whose level of aggression is moderately above the mean show the highest level of competence whereas competence is lowest in children who show no signs of aggression or whose aggression is high and undifferentiated; (b) that the association between aggression and competence is moderated by the function the aggression serves; and (c) that moderately aggressive children are given status within the peer system even though other children do not typically like them. The association between aggression and competence needs to be understood according to basic aspects of group process such as dominance, resource control, and regulation of retaliatory gestures between group members. Although children who show moderate levels of aggression may be given status and power within the peer group, it does not mean they are adjusted or that they will receive or benefit from the affection or kindness from their peers.
Bukowski, William M.
"What Does It Mean to Say That Aggressive
Children Are Competent or Incompetent?,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 49
, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol49/iss3/8