Types of relational aggression in girls are differentiated by callous-unemotional traits, peers and parental overcontrol

Luna C.M. Centifanti, Kostas A. Fanti, Nicholas D. Thomson, Vasiliki Demetriou, Xenia Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous

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    Adolescent girls often perpetrate aggression by gossiping and spreading rumours about others, by attempting to ruin relationships and by manipulating and excluding others. Further, males and females engage in reactive and proactive relational aggression differently. In this study, we examined the individual, peer and parental contextual factors that best explained the use of reactive and proactive relational aggression in girls. Female participants (n = 614; ages 11-18 years) completed questionnaires on aggression, callous-unemotional (CU) traits, delinquency, peer delinquency, gender composition of their peer group, resistance to peer influence and perceived parental overcontrol. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the effects of individual, peer- and parent-related variables on the likelihood of being classified as a low aggressor, reactive aggressor or proactive/reactive aggressor. Girls in the combined reactive/proactive aggression group were younger, had greater CU traits, a lower proportion of male peers and greater perception of parental control than both the reactive and low aggressive groups. Both highly aggressive groups were more delinquent and had greater peer delinquency than the low aggressive group. This study suggests those girls who show relational aggression for the purpose of gaining status and revenge feel restrained by their parents and may gravitate toward relationships that support their behaviour.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)518-536
    Number of pages19
    JournalBehavioral Sciences
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


    • Aggression subtypes
    • Callous-unemotional traits
    • Females
    • Parent-child relationship
    • Peers


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