Peer Victimization and Selective Attention in Adolescence: Evidence from a Monozygotic Twin Difference Design

  • Ian C. CarrollEmail author
  • Elizabeth M. Planalp
  • Carol A. Van Hulle
  • H. Hill Goldsmith


Peer victimization impacts 13% of adolescents worldwide (Currie et al. 2012). Despite its prevalence and associated adverse outcomes, global cognitive processes that could be affected by peer victimization have not been thoroughly investigated. Using a monozygotic (MZ) twin difference design that rigorously controls for the influence of genetic and familial level confounders, we examined the relation between peer victimization exposure and selective attention processes during an affective go/no go task. Twins who experienced more severe peer victimization were biased towards detecting goal relevant stimuli during the task. Our findings suggest an environmentally salient relation between peer victimization and goal oriented selective attention. Future work should investigate how this process might serve to enhance or buffer risk of peer victimization exposure for developing later adverse outcomes.


Peer victimization Peer relationships Attention Twins Bullying 



We thank the families who participated in the study and the staff members who helped with data collection.


Data collection for this project was supported by P50 MH100031 and R01 MH059785 from the National Institute of Mental Health. Data analysis and writing of this manuscript was partly supported by T32 MH018931, K01 MH113710, and R01 MH101504 from the National Institute of Mental Health. Infrastructure support was also provided by core grants P30 HD03352 and U54 HD09025 to the Waisman Center from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Waisman CenterUniversity of Wisconsin–MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Waisman CenterMadisonUSA

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