Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 176–217

A Review and Reconceptualization of Social Aggression: Adaptive and Maladaptive Correlates


DOI: 10.1007/s10567-008-0037-9

Cite this article as:
Heilbron, N. & Prinstein, M.J. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev (2008) 11: 176. doi:10.1007/s10567-008-0037-9


The emergence of a research literature exploring parallels between physical and nonphysical (i.e., social, relational, indirect) forms of aggression has raised many questions about the developmental effects of aggressive behavior on psychological functioning, peer relationships, and social status. Although both forms of aggression have been linked to problematic outcomes in childhood and adolescence, more recent findings have highlighted the importance of considering the possible social rewards conferred by socially aggressive behavior. This paper examines relevant theory and empirical research investigating the adaptive and maladaptive correlates specific to nonphysical forms of aggression. Findings are explored at the level of group (e.g., peer rejection), dyadic (e.g., friendship quality), and individual (e.g., depressive symptoms) variables. Key developmental considerations and methodological issues are addressed, and recommendations for future research integrating current theoretical conceptualizations and empirical findings on social aggression are advanced.


Social aggression Relational aggression Adaptation Peer relationships Social status 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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