Inequality Matters: Classroom Status Hierarchy and Adolescents’ Bullying
- 2.7k Downloads
The natural emergence of status hierarchies in adolescent peer groups has long been assumed to help prevent future intragroup aggression. However, clear evidence of this beneficial influence is lacking. In fact, few studies have examined between-group differences in the degree of status hierarchy (defined as within-group variation in individual status) and how they are related to bullying, a widespread form of aggression in schools. Data from 11,296 eighth- and ninth-graders (mean age = 14.57, 50.6 % female) from 583 classes in 71 schools were used to determine the direction of the association between classroom degree of status hierarchy and bullying behaviors, and to investigate prospective relationships between these two variables over a 6-month period. Multilevel structural equation modeling analyses showed that higher levels of classroom status hierarchy were concurrently associated with higher levels of bullying at the end of the school year. Higher hierarchy in the middle of the school year predicted higher bullying later in the year. No evidence was found to indicate that initial bullying predicted future hierarchy. These findings highlight the importance of a shared balance of power in the classroom for the prevention of bullying among adolescents.
KeywordsBullying Status hierarchy Popularity Multilevel structural equation modeling
The research reported in this manuscript was supported by funding from the Finnish National Doctoral Program of Psychology to the first author and Grants 121091 and 135577 from the Academy of Finland to the third author. The development of the program and the related research is funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. We thank the whole KiVa project team for their continued support.
All persons who have contributed significantly to this work have been listed as authors. CG conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, and drafted the manuscript. IL designed the statistical models, performed the statistical analyses, and helped in data interpretation and manuscript writing. CS obtained funding, helped in the interpretation of the results and has been involved in critical revision of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
- Browne, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models (pp. 136–162). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Cillessen, A. H. N., & Marks, P. (2011). Conceptualizing and measuring popularity. In A. H. N. Cillessen, D. Schwartz, & L. Mayeux (Eds.), Popularity in the peer system. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Farmer, T. W., Hamm, J. V., Leung, M., Lambert, K., & Gravelle, M. (2011). Early adolescent peer ecologies in rural communities: Bullying in schools that do and do not have a transition during middle grades. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 1106–1117. doi: 10.1007/s10964-011-9684-0.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Gest, S. D., Davidson, A. J., Rulison, K. L., Moody, J., & Welsh, J. A. (2007). Features of groups and status hierarchies in girls’ and boys’ early adolescent peer networks. In P. Rodkin & L. Hanish (Eds.), New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, Special Issue: Social Network Analysis and Children’s Peer Relationships. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Li, Y., Wright, M. F. (2013). Adolescents’ social status goals: Relationships to social status insecurity, aggression, and prosocial behavior. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. doi: 10.1007/s10964-013-9939-z.
- Muthén, B. O., & Asparouhov, T. (2008). Growth mixture modeling: Analysis with non-Gaussian random effects. In G. Fitzmaurice, M. Davidian, G. Verbeke, & G. Molenberghs (Eds.), Longitudinal data analysis (pp. 143–165). Boca Raton, FL: Chapman & Hall/CRC.Google Scholar
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2010). Mplus user’s guide (6th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Muthén and Muthén.Google Scholar
- Olweus, D. (1996). The Revised Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. Mimeo. Bergen, Norway: Research Center for Health Promotion (HEMIL Center), University of Bergen.Google Scholar
- Salmivalli, C., Lagerspetz, K., Bjorkqvist, K., Osterman, K., & Kaukiainen, A. (1996). Bullying as a group process: Participant roles and their relations to social status within the group. Aggressive Behavior, 22, 1–15. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2337(1996)22:1<1:AID-AB1>3.0.CO;2-T.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Underwood, M. K. (2004). Gender and peer relations: Are the two gender cultures really all that different? In J. B. Kupersmidt & K. A. Dodge (Eds.), Children’s peer relations. From development to intervention. Washington, DC: American Psychologist Association.Google Scholar
- Wilkinson, R. G., & Pickett, K. (2009). The spirit level: Why more equal societies almost always do better. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
- Zwaan, M., Dijkstra, J. K., & Veenstra, R. (2013). Status hierarchy, attractiveness hierarchy, and sex ratio. Three contextual factors explaining the status-aggression link among adolescents. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 37, 211–221. doi: 10.1177/0165025412471018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar