Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 645–656

Biased Self-Perceptions, Peer Rejection, and Aggression in Children


DOI: 10.1007/s10802-011-9506-6

Cite this article as:
White, B.A. & Kistner, J.A. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2011) 39: 645. doi:10.1007/s10802-011-9506-6


This study examined whether children’s biased self-perceptions of peer acceptance are associated in a linear or curvilinear fashion with aggression, whether associations are moderated by peer rejection status, and whether associations apply uniquely to reactive aggression. Children in the 4th through 7th grades completed a self-report measure on their social functioning (SPPC; Harter 1982), and teachers reported on children’s social functioning and aggression. Self-perceptual bias was operationalized as the standardized residual difference between children’s self-perceptions and their teachers’ perceptions of their peer acceptance. Rejected status moderated associations between biased self-perceptions and reactive aggression. Among non-rejected children, biased perceptions were not significantly associated with reactive aggression. In contrast, among peer-rejected children, reactive aggression was elevated in those who greatly underestimated as well as in those who even modestly overestimated their peer acceptance. This pattern was observed whether or not proactive aggression was statistically controlled. In contrast, biased self-perceptions were not associated with proactive aggression for rejected or nonrejected children. Implications are discussed with regard to future research and potential interventions for aggressive children.


Perceptual biasOverestimationAggressionPeer Rejection

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA