, Volume 39, Issue 9, pp 1041-1052
Date: 22 Nov 2009

Clueless or Powerful? Identifying Subtypes of Bullies in Adolescence

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Abstract

This study examined the heterogeneity of bullying among adolescents. It was hypothesized that bullying behavior serves different social functions and, depending on these functions, bullies will differ in their skills, status and social behavior. In a total sample of 806 8th graders, 120 adolescents (52 boys, 68 girls) were identified as bullies based on peer nominations. An additional group of 50 adolescents (25 boys, 25 girls) served as the non-bully comparison group. Cluster analysis revealed three corresponding bully subtypes for boys and girls: a popular-socially intelligent group, a popular moderate group, and an unpopular-less socially intelligent group. Follow-up analyses showed that the clusters differed significantly from each other in physical and verbal aggression, leadership, network centrality, peer rejection, and self-perceptions of bullying. The results confirm the heterogeneous nature of bullies and the complex nature of bullying in the adolescent peer group.