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The Association Between Forms of Aggression, Leadership, and Social Status Among Urban Youth

Abstract

While much prior research has documented the negative associations between aggression, peer relationships, and social skills, other research has begun to examine whether forms of aggression also may be associated with prosocial skills and increased social status. However, few studies have examined these associations within diverse samples of elementary aged youth. The current study examined the associations between aggression, popularity, social preference, and leadership among 227 urban, ethnic minority (74 % African American, 9 % bi-racial including African American, 12 % other ethnic minorities, and 5 % European American) elementary school youth (average age 9.5 years, 48.5 % female). Results indicated that in an urban, high risk environment, displaying aggressive behaviors was associated with increased perceived popularity, decreased social preference, and, in some cases, increased perceived leadership. The results also suggested gender differences in the association between the forms of aggression (i.e. relational and overt) and popularity. The current study underscores the importance of examining youth leadership along with forms of aggression and social status among urban minority youth. Implications for future research and aggression prevention programming are highlighted.

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Notes

  1. An a priori model was run in order to examine the interactive effects of aggression by popularity and aggression by social preference. These interaction terms were significantly associated with leadership, with the exception of the interaction between relational aggression and popularity. Results indicated that youth who are relationally aggressive were more likely to be rated as popular and as leaders as compared to low relationally aggressive youth. For low relationally aggressive youth, being popular was associated with increasing nominations of leadership F(7, 226) = 136.08, p < .05; ΔR 2 = .01, p < .05.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by two NIMH grants to the anchor author, R34MH072982 and R01MH075787, and by cooperative agreement number 5 U49 CE001093 from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This research was made possible, in part, by the School District of Philadelphia. Opinions contained in this report reflect those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the School District of Philadelphia.

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Waasdorp, T.E., Baker, C.N., Paskewich, B.S. et al. The Association Between Forms of Aggression, Leadership, and Social Status Among Urban Youth. J Youth Adolescence 42, 263–274 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9837-9

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Keywords

  • Relational aggression
  • Popularity
  • Social preference
  • Leadership
  • Social status
  • Gender