Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Peer Relations and Peer Deviance as Predictors of Reactive and Proactive Aggression among High School Girls

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Peer Relations and Peer Deviance as Predictors of Reactive and Proactive Aggression among High School Girls

Article excerpt

Aggressive behavior is a severe and pervasive problem in adolescence. Numerous studies have shown that aggressive behaviors are consistently associated with psychosocial adjustment (see Card & Little, 2006). To effectively intervene in these problem behaviors, teachers and school counselors need to know of the function that underlies aggressive behaviors. Aggressive behaviors are divided into two categories in terms of underlying functions: reactive versus proactive aggression (Dodge & Coie, 1987).

Reactive aggression is a defensive, retaliatory response to a perceived provocation from a peer and is accompanied by a display of anger (Hubbard, Dodge, Cillessen, Coie, & Schwartz, 2001). Reactive aggression has its theoretical roots in the frustration-aggression model (Berkowitz, 1989). According to this formulation, frustrations are aversive events and generate aggressive inclinations only to the extent of producing negative effects. An unanticipated failure to obtain an attractive goal is more unpleasant than an expected failure, and it is the greater displeasure in the former case that gives rise to the stronger instigation to aggression.

However, proactive aggression is an unprovoked, deliberate, and goal-directed behavior used to influence or coerce a peer (Hubbard et al., 2001). The theoretical roots of proactive aggression can be found in social learning theory, according to which, people acquire aggressive responses in the same way that they acquire other complex forms of social behavior. Social learning theory explains the acquisition of aggressive behaviors via observational learning processes (Anderson & Bushman, 2002).

There are two approaches toward studying reactive and proactive aggression. The first approach is the person-centered approach in which a person is categorized as either reactively or proactively aggressive. These classifications have been made on the basis of the deviation from the mean for both reactive and proactive aggression (Dodge & Coie, 1987). The second approach is the variable centered approach that examines reactive and proactive aggression as two separate characteristics that can co-exist within an individual. Studies using this approach do not classify individuals as reactively or proactively aggressive. In the present study, the variable centered approach was used.

Prior studies that used a variable centered approach have provided support for the distinction of reactive and proactive aggression (Fossati et al., 2009; Fung, Raine, & Gao, 2009; Raine et al., 2006; Uz Bas & Yurdabakan, 2012). Although reactive and proactive aggression are distinct constructs, there is an overlap between them. Miller and Lynam (2006) reported that there are high correlations between reactive and proactive aggression, and these correlations run between .60 and .80. Despite these high correlations, different developmental precursors (e.g., Ostrov, Murray-Close, Godleski, & Hart, 2013) and different psychological outcomes (see Card & Little, 2006) are associated with these aggression subtypes.

In the present study, we aimed to investigate associations between reactive and proactive aggression and peer relations and peer deviance among high school girls. Theoretical models and the empirical foundation for understanding the development of aggression have been based on prior research on aggressive boys (Pepler, Craig, Yuile, & Connolly, 2004). Recently, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers have lamented the lack of good empirical data describing the developmental course of disruptive behavior problems and the emergence of antisocial behaviors among girls (Bierman, Bruschi, Domitrovich, Fang, & Miller-Johnson, 2004). In a meta-analysis study of the distinction between reactive and proactive aggression in children and adolescents, the reseachers reviewed 50 studies in terms of gender and found that 21 of these were only conducted for boys (Polman, Castro, Koops, Boxtel, & Merk, 2007). …

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