2015 › Trails



Bullying and popularity: Structure matters: The role of clique hierarchy in the relationship between adolescent social status and aggression and prosociality

Authors: Pattiselanno K, Dijkstra JK, Steglich CEG, Vollbergh WAM, Veenstra R

 Peer cliques form an important context for the social development of adolescents. Although clique members are often similar in social status, also within cliques, status differences exist. How differences in social status between clique members are related to behaviors of its individual members is rather unknown. This study examined to what extent the relationship of individual social status (i.e., perceived popularity) with aggression and prosocial behavior depends on the level of internal clique hierarchy. The sample consists of 2674 adolescents (49.8% boys), with a mean age of 14.02. We focused specifically on physical and relational aggression, and practical and emotional support, because these behaviors have shown to be of great importance for social relationships and social standing among adolescents. The internal status hierarchy of cliques was based on the variation in individual social status between clique members (i.e., clique hierarchization) and the structure of status scores within a clique (pyramid shape, inverted pyramid, or equal distribution of social status scores) (i.e., clique status structure). The results showed that differences in aggressive and prosocial behaviors were particularly moderated by clique status structure: aggression was stronger related to individual social status in (girls') cliques where the clique status structure reflected an inverted pyramid with relatively more high status adolescents within the clique than low status peers, and prosocial behavior showed a significant relationship with individual social status, again predominantly in inverted pyramid structured (boys' and girls') cliques. Furthermore, these effects differed by types of gender cliques: the associations were found in same gender but not mixed-gender cliques. The findings stress the importance of taking into account internal clique characteristics when studying adolescent social status in relationship to aggression and prosociality.

Bullying and popularity: Multifinality of peer victimization: maladjustment patterns and transitions from early to mid-adolescence

Authors: Kretschmer T, Barker ED, Dijkstra JK, Oldehinkel AJ, Veenstra R

Peer victimization is a common and pervasive experience in childhood and adolescence and is associated with various maladjustment symptoms, including internalizing, externalizing, and somatic problems. This variety suggests that peer victimization is multifinal where exposure to the same risk leads to different outcomes. However, very little is known about the relative likelihood of each form of maladjustment. We used a latent profile approach to capture multiple possible outcomes and examined prediction by peer victimization. We also examined the role of peer victimization with regard to stability and change in maladjustment. Maladjustment symptoms and peer victimization were assessed from the participants of the large cohort study TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey in early and mid-adolescence. Latent profile and latent transition analyses were conducted to examine associations between victimization and maladjustment profile and to test the role of victimization in maladjustment profile transitions. Four maladjustment profiles were identified for early adolescence (Low, Internalizing, Externalizing, Comorbid) and three profiles (Low, Internalizing, Externalizing) were identified for mid-adolescence. Internalizing problems were more likely in victimized adolescents than low symptom levels or externalizing problems. Victimized adolescents were at greater risk to develop internalizing problems between early and mid-adolescence than non-victimized adolescents. Peer victimization is multifinal mostly when outcomes are examined separately. If multiple outcomes are tested simultaneously, internalizing problems seem to be the most likely outcome.

Bullying and popularity: Hedonic, instrumental, and normative motives: Differentiating patterns for popular, accepted, and rejected

Authors: Dijkstra JK, Kretschmer T, Lindenberg S, Veenstra R

This study examined to what extent motives for behavior differentiated between popular, accepted, and rejected adolescents. Based on goal-framing theory, three types of motives were distinguished: hedonic (aimed at short-term gratification), instrumental (aimed at improvement of one’s situation), and normative (aimed at acting in accordance with what one thinks one is ought to do) motives, which were based on teachers’ assessments. These motives were related to peer-reported popularity, acceptance, and rejection in a sample of adolescent boys (n = 287) and girls (n = 303;   mean age = 13.51; SD = 0.54). Results showed that popular adolescents were mainly characterized by instrumental and normative motives. Accepted adolescents were high in hedonic and normative motives, but low in instrumental motivation, whereas rejected adolescents showed the exact opposite pattern. These results indicate that being successful among peers is not only a matter of behavior but also of motives underlying behaviors.