Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 45, Issue 9, pp 1836–1848

Status Differences in Target-Specific Prosocial Behavior and Aggression

Empirical Research

DOI: 10.1007/s10964-016-0481-7

Cite this article as:
Closson, L.M. & Hymel, S. J Youth Adolescence (2016) 45: 1836. doi:10.1007/s10964-016-0481-7


Previous studies exploring the link between social status and behavior have predominantly utilized measures that do not provide information regarding toward whom aggression or prosocial behavior is directed. Using a contextualized target-specific approach, this study examined whether high- and low-status adolescents behave differently toward peers of varying levels of status. Participants, aged 11–15 (N = 426, 53 % females), completed measures assessing aggression and prosocial behavior toward each same-sex grademate. A distinct pattern of findings emerged regarding the likeability, popularity, and dominance status of adolescents and their peer targets. Popular adolescents reported more direct aggression, indirect aggression, and prosocial behavior toward popular peers than did unpopular adolescents. Well-accepted adolescents reported more prosocial behavior toward a wider variety of peers than did rejected adolescents. Finally, compared to subordinate adolescents, dominant adolescents reported greater direct and indirect aggression toward dominant than subordinate peers. The results highlight the importance of studying target-specific behavior to better understand the status-behavior link.


Aggression Prosocial behavior Likeability Popularity Dominance Early adolescence 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySaint Mary’s UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special EducationUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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