Zwaan M, Dijkstra JK, Veenstra R › Trails


Status Hierarchy, Attractiveness Hierarchy, and Sex Ratio: Three Contextual Factors Explaining the Status-Aggression Link among Adolescents, International Journal of Behavioral Development

Authors: Zwaan M, Dijkstra JK, Veenstra R

The moderating effects of three specific conditions (status hierarchy, attractiveness hierarchy, and sex ratio) on the link between status (popularity) and physical and relational aggression were examined in a large sample of adolescent boys (N = 1,665) and girls (N = 1,637) (M age = 13.60). In line with the hypotheses, derived from integrating a goal-framing perspective with an evolutionary perspective, it was found for boys that status was more strongly related to both physical and relational aggression in classrooms when differences in status (status hierarchy) and physical attractiveness between same-gender peers (attractiveness hierarchy) were smaller, and to relational aggression when cross-gender peers (potential mating partners) were relatively scarce. For girls, status hierarchy and attractiveness hierarchy only moderated the link between status and relational aggression. These results suggest that competition to a certain extent triggers aggression by high status adolescents. The findings are discussed from a broader evolutionary perspective, and the utility of this approach for understanding adolescents’ behavior in the peer context is considered.

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