An Examination of Network Position and Childhood Relational Aggression: Integrating Resource Control and Social Exchange Theories

Jennifer Watling Neal, Elise Cappella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Applying resource control theory and social exchange theory, we examined the social network conditions under which elementary age children were likely to engage in relational aggression. Data on classroom peer networks and peer-nominated behaviors were collected on 671 second- through fourth-grade children in 34 urban, low-income classrooms. Nested regression models with robust cluster standard errors demonstrated that the association between children's number of relationships and their levels of relational aggression was moderated by the number of relationships that their affiliates had. Children with more peer relationships (i.e., higher network centrality) exhibited higher levels of relational aggression, but only when these relationships were with peers who had fewer connections themselves (i.e., poorly connected peers). This finding remained significant even when controlling for common predictors of relational aggression including gender, overt aggression, prosocial behavior, victimization, social preference, and perceived popularity. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for advancing the literature on childhood relational aggression and their practical applications for identifying children at risk for these behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-140
Number of pages15
JournalAggressive Behavior
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Keywords

  • Children
  • Relational aggression
  • Resource control theory
  • Social exchange theory
  • Social network
  • Social status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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