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A Comparison of Relational and Physical Aggression Correlates in Young Children

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021693/00001

Material Information

Title: A Comparison of Relational and Physical Aggression Correlates in Young Children
Physical Description: 1 online resource (109 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Harman, Jennifer
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: aggression, childhood, early, physical, preschoolers, relational
Educational Psychology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: School Psychology thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Current prevention and intervention programs designed to reduce and avert early childhood aggression focus primarily on physical aggression. Presently no empirically validated prevention/intervention programs specifically address relational aggression. Relational aggressors use their peer relationships when engaging in aggressive acts (to tell someone that they cannot be your friend). While a number of researchers have examined the characteristics of physical aggressors, less is known about the characteristics of relational aggressors. Given the first step to ameliorating relational aggression is accurate assessment, it is essential that the characteristics of relational aggressors be identified. Inaccurate assessment or misinformation regarding correlates of relational aggression renders interventions ineffective or even detrimental. The primary aim of this research is to explore how correlates of relational aggression differ from correlates of physical aggression. The principle research questions that guide this project include: 1) Is relational and physical aggression related in preschool children? 2) What is the relationship between relational aggression and the following variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive language abilities? and3.) What is the relationship between physical aggression and the following variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive language abilities? This project used inferential statistics to assess correlates of physical aggression and relation aggression in 103 children enrolled in early childhood programs in Alachua County Florida. The Expressive Vocabulary Test was used to assess expressive language abilities; the Preschool Social Behavior Scale- Teacher Form was used to assess levels of physical and relational aggression; and the Early Childhood Social Cognitions Interview and Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Questions were used to measure each participating child's level of perspective taking skills. Anticipated benefits of this project include (a) furthering knowledge of relational aggression correlates and possible predictors, (b) differentiating predictors and correlates of relational aggression from predictors and correlates of physical aggression, and (c) utilizing information regarding the correlates of relational aggression to make recommendations concerning the development of relational aggression intervention and prevention programs.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Jennifer Harman.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Smith-Bonahue, Tina M.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0021693:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021693/00001

Material Information

Title: A Comparison of Relational and Physical Aggression Correlates in Young Children
Physical Description: 1 online resource (109 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Harman, Jennifer
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: aggression, childhood, early, physical, preschoolers, relational
Educational Psychology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: School Psychology thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Current prevention and intervention programs designed to reduce and avert early childhood aggression focus primarily on physical aggression. Presently no empirically validated prevention/intervention programs specifically address relational aggression. Relational aggressors use their peer relationships when engaging in aggressive acts (to tell someone that they cannot be your friend). While a number of researchers have examined the characteristics of physical aggressors, less is known about the characteristics of relational aggressors. Given the first step to ameliorating relational aggression is accurate assessment, it is essential that the characteristics of relational aggressors be identified. Inaccurate assessment or misinformation regarding correlates of relational aggression renders interventions ineffective or even detrimental. The primary aim of this research is to explore how correlates of relational aggression differ from correlates of physical aggression. The principle research questions that guide this project include: 1) Is relational and physical aggression related in preschool children? 2) What is the relationship between relational aggression and the following variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive language abilities? and3.) What is the relationship between physical aggression and the following variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive language abilities? This project used inferential statistics to assess correlates of physical aggression and relation aggression in 103 children enrolled in early childhood programs in Alachua County Florida. The Expressive Vocabulary Test was used to assess expressive language abilities; the Preschool Social Behavior Scale- Teacher Form was used to assess levels of physical and relational aggression; and the Early Childhood Social Cognitions Interview and Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Questions were used to measure each participating child's level of perspective taking skills. Anticipated benefits of this project include (a) furthering knowledge of relational aggression correlates and possible predictors, (b) differentiating predictors and correlates of relational aggression from predictors and correlates of physical aggression, and (c) utilizing information regarding the correlates of relational aggression to make recommendations concerning the development of relational aggression intervention and prevention programs.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Jennifer Harman.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Smith-Bonahue, Tina M.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0021693:00001


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5960adf9b78bd99818857a8a633b690f4c2f672d







A COMPARISON OF RELATIONAL AND PHYSICAL AGGRESSION CORRELATES IN
YOUNG CHILDREN




















By

JENNIFER HARMAN


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2009






































O 2009 Jennifer Harman


































To Kevin, whose life taught me determination and whose
memory continually provides me with inner strength











ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First and foremost, I thank my advisor, Dr. Tina Smith-Bonahue, whose support,

encouragement, and patience seems endless. Likewise, I thank Drs. Diana Joyce, Sondra Smith,

and Kristen Kemple for all of their encouragement, guidance, and assistance. The input and

support of each of my committee members was greatly appreciated throughout the process of

completing my dissertation! I also am grateful to all of the participants, their parents, their

teachers, and the directors at their early childhood centers. Without them, this proj ect would have

been impossible to complete! Next, I thank Twyla Mancil, Katrina Raia, Catherine Raulerson,

and Kimberly Sumara who helped with data collection, data entry and/or reliability checks; and,

I thank Julie Ellis, Tanya Kort, Anne Laramore, and Tiffany Sanders for all of their

encouragement. Last, but certainly not least, I am grateful to my family, especially my parents,

who always seem to believe in me, especially at times when it is hard to believe in myself.

Without their support, I never would have thought I could obtain my dreams.












TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............. ...............4.....


LIST OF TABLES ................. ...............8..._. .....


AB S TRAC T ......_ ................. ............_........9


CHAPTER


1 INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIEW ................. .............. ......... .....11


Overview of Aggression ................. .......... ...............11......
Significance of Relational Aggression ................ .......... ................. ..............13
Theoreti cal F rameworks for Rel ati onal Aggre ssi on ................ ............... 16...........
Social Information Processing Model ................ ...............16................
Resource Control Theory .............. ..... .. ...............19
Relational Aggression in Early Childhood ................. ...............20........... ...
Assessment of Relational Aggression .............. .. ...............22...
Preschool Social Behavior Scale- Teacher Form .............. ...............22....
Preschool Social Behavior Scale- Peer Form ................. ...............23...............
Direct Ob servations ................. ...............23........... ....

Comparison of Three Methods ................. ...............25........... ...
Correlates of Relational Aggression............... ...............2
G ender ............... ...............27....
Language Ability ................... ............ ...............27.......
Empathy and Perspective Taking Skills ................ ...............28........... ...
Social Competence and Friendships............... ..............2
Fam ily Factors ............... .......... .... ............. .. ...........2
Significance of Physical Aggression in Early Childhood ................. .......... ...............30
Mental Health Outcomes ................. ...............33........... ....
Interpersonal Outcomes ................. ...............33.................
Physical Aggression Intervention Programs............... ...............34
Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum ................. .............. .. .... .... ......... .......3
Play Time/Social Time: Organizing Your Classroom to Build Social Interaction
S kill s .............. .... ............. ..... .. ........35
Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies............... ...............3
First Step to Success ................. ...............37................
FAST Track Prevention Program ................. ............ ...............38. ....
Additional Physical Aggression Intervention Programs .............. ....................3
Purpose of the Present Study ................. ...............40.......... ....

2 METHODOLOGY .............. ...............43....


Participants .............. ...............43....
Procedure .............. ...............43....












M measures ............... .. ........ ..... ....... .. ... .. .. ...........4
Preschool Social Behavior Scale- Teacher Form .............. ...............45....

Expressive Vocabulary Test ................. ...............45........... ....
Early Childhood Social Cognitions ................. .. ......... ...............46. ....
Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Questionnaire .............. .....................4
Research Questions and Data Analysis .............. ...............49....


3 RE SULT S .............. ...............52....


Descriptive Statistics .............. ...............52....
Participant Characteristics ................ ...............52.................
Cl ass Characteri stics............... ............5
Site Characteristics .............. ...............53....
Data Reduction .............. ...............54....
Statistical Assumptions............... ..............5
Multiple Regression Analyses ................... ....... .. ...... ......... ... ...........5
Hypothesis 1: Perspective-Taking Ability and Relational Aggression ................... ........56
Hypothesis 2: Perspective-Taking Ability and Physical Aggression ................... ...........57
Hypothesis 3: Expressive Language Skills and Relational Aggression ..........................57
Hypothesis 4: Expressive Language Skills and Physical Aggression ...........................57
Regression Analyses Based on Data Reduction ......_.__ .......__ ....._ ..........5
Physical aggression .............. ...............58....
First model ............ .... __ ...............58..
Second model .............. ...............58....
Third m odel .............. ...............58....
Relational aggression............... ...............5
First model ............ .... __ ...............59..
Second model .............. ...............59....
Prosocial behavior ............. ..... __ ...............59...
First model ............ .... __ ...............60..
Second model .............. ...............60....

Analysis of Variance........ ......... ...... .......... ... ......_ .........6
Hypothesi s 1: Perspective-Taking Ability and Relational Aggression............._._... ........6 1
Scenario A: How do you think Joe will feel ....._.__._ ..... ... .__. ..._._. ........6
Scenario B: How do you think Rachel will feel .............. ........._.. .. ........._.._ ...........62
Hypothesis 5: Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Ability and ECSCI.............. .63
Summary ........._.__....... .__ ...............64....


4 DI SCUS SSION ........._.___..... .___ ...............69....


Research Question 1 .............. ...............69....
Research Question 2 .............. ...............72....
Gender .............. ...... ........ ...........7

Expressive Language Ability .............. ...............73....
Research Question 3 .............. ...............76....
Gender .............. ...... ........ ...........7

Expressive Language Ability .............. ...............76....












Perspective Taking Skills .............. ...............76....
Other Findings .............. ...............77....
Physical Ag gression .............. ...............77....
Prosocial Skill s .............. ...............77....
Theoretical Implications .............. ...............78....
Lim stations ............... .. .............. .. ...............79.......

Design and Internal Validity ............... ...............79....
External Validity and Generalizability ................. ...............80................
M easurement .............. ...............80....
Future Directions .............. ...............8 1....

Perspective Taking .............. ...............81....
G ender .............. ...............82....

Expressive Language ................. ...............83.................
Applied Implications .............. ...............83....
Physical aggression .............. ...............83....
Relational ag gression .............. ...............84....

APPENDIX


A SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCES SING MODEL ................. ............... ......... ...85


B REVIEW OF RELATIONAL AGGRESSION ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES .................86

C LIMITATIONS OF CURRENT RELATIONAL AGGRESSION ASSESSMENT
TECHNIQUE S .............. ...............92....

D PRESCHOOL SOCIAL BEHAVIOR SCALE-TEACHER FORM .................. ...............93


E PRESCHOOL PEER NOMINATION MEASURE-PEER FORM ................. ................. .95


F EARLY CHILDHOOD SOCIAL COGNITIONS INTERVIEW ................ ............... ....97


G RELATIONAL AGGRESSION SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING BASED
ON RE SOURCE CONTROL ................. ...............98........... ....


LIST OF REFERENCE S ................. ...............99................


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................. ...............112......... ......










LIST OF TABLES


Table page

3-1 Descriptive statistics of child characteristics ................ ...............66...............

3-2 ANOVAs for kindergarten versus non-kindergarten classes ................. ............. .......66

3-3 Descriptive statistics of class and site characteristics ................. ................ ........ .66

3-4 Pearson product-moment correlations and point-biserial correlations .............. ................66

3-5 Summary of regression analysis for perspective-taking and relational aggression ...........67

3-6 Summary of regression analysis for perspective-taking and physical aggression .............67

3-7 Summary of regression analysis for expressive language and relational aggression ........67

3-8 Summary of regression analysis for expressive language and physical aggression ..........67

3-9 Summary of regression analysis for correlates of physical aggression ..........._................67

3-10 Summary of regression analysis for correlates of relational aggression. .........................67

3-11 Summary of regression analysis for correlates of prosocial behavior ............... ..............68

3-12 Summary of oneway ANOVA and univariate tests scenario A............... ...................6

3-13 Summary of oeway ANOVA and uivariate tests scenario B ................. ............. .......68

B-1 Review of relational aggression assessment techniques ................. ........................86

C-1 Limitations of current relational aggression assessment techniques .............. .................92












Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

A COMPARISON OF RELATIONAL AND PHYSICAL AGGRESSION CORRELATES IN
YOUNG CHILDREN

By

Jennifer L. Harman

May 2009

Chair: Tina Smith-Bonahue
Major: School Psychology

Current prevention and intervention programs designed to reduce and avert early

childhood aggression focus primarily on physical aggression. Presently no empirically validated

prevention/intervention programs specifically address relational aggression. Relational

aggressors use their peer relationships when engaging in aggressive acts (to tell someone that

they cannot be your friend). While a number of researchers have examined the characteristics of

physical aggressors, less is known about the characteristics of relational aggressors. Given the

first step to ameliorating relational aggression is accurate assessment, it is essential that the

characteristics of relational aggressors be identified. Inaccurate assessment or misinformation

regarding correlates of relational aggression renders interventions ineffective or even

detrimental .

The primary aim of this research is to explore how correlates of relational aggression

differ from correlates of physical aggression. The principle research questions that guide this

proj ect include: 1.) Is relational and physical aggression related in preschool children? 2.) What

is the relationship between relational aggression and the following variables: gender, perspective

taking skills, and expressive language abilities? and3.) What is the relationship between physical









aggression and the following variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive

language abilities?

This proj ect used inferential statistics to assess correlates of physical aggression and

relation aggression in 103 children enrolled in early childhood programs in Alachua County

Florida. The Expressive Vocabulary Test was used to assess expressive language abilities; the

Preschool Social Behavior Scale- Teacher Form was used to assess levels of physical and

relational aggression; and the Early Childhood Social Cognitions Interview and Relational

Aggression Perspective Taking Questions were used to measure each participating child's level

of perspective taking skills. Anticipated benefits of this proj ect include (a) furthering knowledge

of relational aggression correlates and possible predictors, (b) differentiating predictors and

correlates of relational aggression from predictors and correlates of physical aggression, and (c)

utilizing information regarding the correlates of relational aggression to make recommendations

concerning the development of relational aggression intervention and prevention programs.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIEW

Overview of Aggression

Various definitions of the word "aggression" are employed within the plethora of research

devoted to this topic. Although overlap is present among the various definitions utilized (most

researchers agree that an aggressive act is an intentional behavior that is harmful, either mentally

or physically, and aversive to the victim) most researchers agree there are various forms and

various ways to categorize aggressive acts (Crick, Casas, & Mosher, 1997; Dodge, 1980;

Goldstein & Conoley, 1997; McEvoy, Estrem, Rodriguez, & Olson, 2003).

Little and colleagues argue that researchers must distinguish the "whys" of aggressive

behavior from the "whats" of aggressive behavior (Little, Jones, Henrich, & Hawley, 2003).

Specifically, the "whys" of aggressive behavior include descriptors of the driving forces behind

aggressive acts and the "whats" of aggressive behavior typify the acts being committed (Little et

al., 2003).

Many researchers speak of the "whys" of aggressive behavior through the use of the terms

reactive aggression and proactive aggression. Specifically, reactive aggression refers to the

immediate display of violent or threatening behavior in response to another' s actions. Reactive

aggression is often characterized as "hot-blooded" aggression because no premeditated planning

is involved with this type of aggression. Proactive aggression, on the other hand, is characterized

as "planned" aggression and is sometimes referred to as instrumental aggression. Proactive,

instrumental aggression is often controlled by external reinforcements and is always deliberate,

intentional, and self-serving (Clarke, 2004; Conner, Steingard, Anderson, & Melloni, 2003;

Hubbard, Dodge, Cilessen, Coie, & Swartz, 2001; Little et al., 2003; Vitaro, Brendgen &

Tremblay, 2002).









Some researchers categorize the "whats" of aggressive acts as direct or indirect. Others

categorize aggression as overt or covert. Direct, overt aggression includes acts of aggression that

are carried out with both the perpetrator and the victim present. Acts of physical aggression

could be categorized as direct, overt aggression. If a child physically hits another child, this act

would be considered an act of direct, overt aggression. Indirect and covert aggression includes

the presence of a third person that acts as a facilitator of the aggressive act. For example, if one

child starts a rumor about another child, and a third child helps to spread this rumor it would be

considered an act of indirect, covert aggression (Kochenderfer-Ladd & Ladd, 2001; Little, et al.

2003).

Still other researchers (Monks, Ruiz, & Val, 2002) prefer to classify aggression according

to explicit descriptions of the act. For example, some classify acts of aggression as physical

aggression, verbal aggression, or relational aggression. Physical aggression includes acts

completed with physical force. For example, to hit someone, to throw something, to kick

something, or to push someone would all be considered acts of physical aggression. Verbal

aggression includes acts of saying harmful words directly to someone, whereas relational

aggression uses the manipulation of peer relationships. For example, to call someone a mean

name would be considered verbal aggression, but to tell someone that they cannot be friends with

you would be considered relational aggression (Crick, Nelson, Morales, Cullerton-Sen, Casas, &

Hickman, 2001; Monks et al., 2002).

Interestingly, verbally telling someone they cannot be friends with you could be considered

both a relationally and a verbally aggressive act. To clarify, some forms of relational aggression

also can be considered a type of verbal aggression. When the perpetration of relational

aggression is conducted by the aggressor verbally telling the victim something ("I won't be your









friend if you let Suzy play with you") the incidence can be characterized as both an act of

relational aggression and an act of verbal aggression. Importantly, however, other forms of

relational aggression are not able to be characterized as verbal aggression. For example, to ignore

someone is considered an act of relational aggression because it utilizes the peer relationship in

the completion of the aggressive act. However, ignoring someone cannot be considered an act of

verbal aggression (Crick, Nelson, Morales, Cullerton-Sen, Casas, & Hickman, 2001; Monks et

al., 2002).

Significance of Relational Aggression

Relational aggression is a serious problem which can include social exclusion, spreading

rumors, ignoring peers, asking others in the peer group to ignore or exclude a peer, telling a peer

they cannot be part of the group, asking others in the peer group to tell a peer s/he can not be part

of the group, and/or setting conditional limits on one's friendship. Each month over 200,000

students in the United States miss school due to relational victimization

(http:.//www.opheliaproj ect. org, retrieved 5/20/2006). Moreover, the vast maj ority of girls who

are victimized by peers (approximately 70%) are victims of relational aggression (Crick &

Bigbee, 1998).

Though the field of relational aggression is still in its infancy, a need to assess relational

aggression and provide intervention services to relationally aggressive preschoolers has been

identified. Crick, Casas, and Nelson (2002) point out that relational aggression attacks children's

needs for social acceptance and closeness, which can lead to the occurrence negative

interpersonal events. For example, Crick, Casas, and Ku (1999) assessed the correlation between

relational victimization and social and psychological adjustment problems among 192 preschool

children using peer-nominations, teacher-reports, and interviews. Results indicated that children

who are victims of relational aggression are significantly more likely to be rej ected by peers, to









have poor peer relationships, to have significantly less prosocial problem solving skills, and to

exhibit significantly more internalizing problems than those who were not found to be victims of

relational aggression. Additionally, Crick and colleagues (2006) longitudinally studied relational

aggressive preschoolers. Results indicated relationally aggressive preschoolers were more likely

than non-relationally aggressive preschoolers to be continually rej ected by peers.

Similarly, McNeilly-Choque and colleagues (1996) used peer-nominations, teacher ratings,

and direct observations to investigate relational aggression and physical aggression among

preschool children. Relational aggression included any purposeful manipulation of the peer

relationship (excluding peers, saying "you can not go to my party if you don't give me the

ball."), whereas physical aggression included acts completed with physical force (hitting,

kicking, spitting on, tripping, pushing, etc). Physically aggressive boys were significantly more

likely to be rej ected than non-physically aggressive children (i.e., both boys and girls) or than

relationally aggressive boys. Similarly, relationally aggressive females were significantly more

likely to be rej ected than non-relationally aggressive females.

Investigating similar constructs in older children, Crick and Grotpeter (1995) found that

children who engaged in relational aggression had significantly higher levels of loneliness,

depression and isolation than their non-relationally aggressive peers. In a related study, Roecker

Phelps (2001) examined the coping strategies of 491 third through sixth grade children who were

exposed to relational and overt aggression. Children who were more commonly exposed to

relational aggression tended to use internalizing strategies (worrying about the act of aggression,

becoming anxious), whereas children who experienced overt aggression commonly exhibited the

use of externalizing strategies (throw something).









Similarly, when exploring the psychological and social adjustment of relational

aggressors among a sample of 9th through 12th grade students, Prinstein and colleagues (2001)

found victims of relational aggression exhibited more internalizing behavior problems (anxiety,

depression) than non-victimized peers (Prinstein, Boergers, & Vemnberg, 2001). Likewise, when

the social-psychological adjustment of young adult victims of relational aggression in a college

sample were examined, results indicated victims of relational aggression were more often

rej ected by peers and less satisfied with their lives than non-victimized peers. Additionally,

relational aggression was associated with overall higher levels of maladjustment (Wemner &

Crick, 1999).

Negative sequelae not only appear to be related to the victimization of relational

aggression but also to the perpetration of relational aggression. For example, Crick, Ostrov, and

Werner (2006) found relational aggression to be a strong predictor of psychological and social

maladjustment. Cillessen and Mayeux (2004) used sociometrics to measure the social status and

social preference of relational aggressors and physical aggressors in a sample of 905 children

ages 10 to 14. The use of relational aggression was predictive of low social preference and high

social prominence. In other words, relationally aggressive individuals were popular but not

preferred among peers. Andreou (2006) also found relationally aggressive individuals are

commonly popular but not liked.

Additionally, when studied longitudinally, engaging in relational aggression in the

beginning of the year in later elementary school grades (3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, or 6th

grade) was predictive of future social maladjustment at the end of that school year (Crick, 1996).

More specifically, findings indicate that when comparing individuals who engaged in relational

aggression to those who engaged in physical aggression, the children who engaged in relational










aggression were more likely to be rej ected by peers. Importantly, perpetrators of relational

aggression in the beginning of third grade, the beginning of fourth grade, the beginning of fifth

grade, and the beginning of sixth grade were likely to continue being consistent perpetrators of

relational aggression throughout a year-long study, suggesting relational aggression may be a

relatively stable characteristic in these individuals (Crick, 1996). This finding specifically

highlights the need for research to inform relational aggression intervention proj ects. Relational

aggression does not appear to be a characteristic that dissipates on its own. The need for

intervention services is vast. However, prior to developing intervention programs for relational

aggression, more research must be conducted to identify the correlates and predictors of

relational aggression.

Theoretical Frameworks for Relational Aggression

Numerous studies use the Social Information Processing Model (SIPM) to describe the

cognitive actions engaged in by relational aggressors. Recent studies have begun to consider the

Resource Control Theory in the explanation of relational aggression. Each of these frameworks

provides valuable tools for the explanation of relationally aggressive behaviors.

Social Information Processing Model

The Social Information Processing Model (SIPM) has been used to explain physically

aggressive behavior by many researchers (Coie & Cillessen, 1993; Dodge, Lansford, Salzer

Burks, Bates, Pettit, Fontaine, & Price, 2003; Salzer Burks, Laird, & Dodge, 1999; Webster-

Stratton & Lindsay, 1999). In fact, most studies that link social information processing to the use

of aggressive behavior directed towards peers focuses on physical aggression (Crick, Grotpeter,

& Bigbee, 2002). However, Crick and colleagues (1995, 1999) have begun to demonstrate the

usefulness of the SIPM in explaining relational aggression.









In the SIPM, children's social behaviors, including various forms of aggression, are

considered to be a function of any one of the following steps: encoding social cues, interpreting

social cues, forming goals, availability of access to a responsess, and deciding upon a response

(Crick & Dodge, 1994). (See Appendix A). Physically aggressive individuals are commonly

found to hold a hostile attribution biases (an excessively negative processing of information)

with regard to their social information processing. More specifically, the hypothesis states that

physically aggressive children interpret social cues delivered by others (peers) as having hostile

or malice intent, despite if this is the case (Coie & Cillessen, 1993; Dodge, et al., 2003; Salzer

Burks et al., 1999; Webster-Stratton & Lindsay, 1999).

According to the SIPM, holding a hostile attribution bias increases the likelihood that a

child will react aggressively to behaviors exhibited by peers (Crick et al., 2002). Crick,

Grotpeter, and Bigbee (2002) suggested that physically aggressive children may be more likely

to hold hostile attribution biases for "instrumental provocation" contexts, and relationally

aggressive children may be more likely to hold hostile attribution biases for "relational

provocation" contexts (p. 1136). Examples of instrumental provocations include disagreements

involving "physical dominance, territory issues, or instrumental concerns" (Crick et al., 2002, p.

1 136). Examples of relational provocations include "interpersonal issues or relational concerns

such as social exclusion, disagreements with friends, or being the target of peer' s gossip" (Crick

et al., 2002, p. 1136). For example, this hypothesis suggests that children who engage in

relational aggression would assume that malice was intended if they did not get invited to a sleep

over (i.e., social exclusion), even if this was not the case (the child who had the sleep over was

not allowed to invite any more children).









To test this hypothesis, Crick and colleagues (2002) conducted two studies. In the first

study, 825 third grade children from various elementary schools were screened to identify how

physically and relationally aggressive they were. Results from this study identified 127

individuals who were either extremely physically aggressive when compared to peers or

extremely relationally aggressive when compared to peers. The extremely aggressive individuals

completed measures assessing their intent attributions and emotional distress. In the second

study, 535 third to sixth grade children completed the aggression, intent attribution, and

emotional distress instruments. Results from both of these independent studies indicated that

physically aggressive individuals were more likely to hold hostile attribution biases for

instrumental provocations and relationally aggressive individuals were more likely to hold

hostile attribution biases for relational provocations (Crick et al., 2002). Interestingly, these

Endings have not been replicated in later studies. For example, Crain, Finch, and Foster (2006)

conducted two independent studies to examine the social-information processing variables

(holding hostile attribution biases) in relationally aggressive fourth- through sixth-grade girls,

and found hostile intent attributions and outcome expectancies were not significantly related to

peer nominations of relational aggression (Crain et al., 2006).

The SIPM suggests that physically aggressive children lack empathy when deciding upon a

response to the actions of others. When describing the utilization of the SIPM to the explanation

of relational aggression, Crick and colleagues (1995, 1999; Murray-Close, Crick, & Galotti,

2006) suggest that relationally aggressive individuals also lack empathy when deciding upon a

response to the actions of others. However, alternatives to this school of thought should be

considered. One alternative hypothesizes that relationally aggressive individuals do not lack

empathy-related perspective taking skills. More specifically, the nature of relational aggression









involves manipulation. In order to be effective at manipulation, individuals need to be able to

engage in perspective taking. Relationally aggressive individuals likely understand how their

actions may make peers feel. If they did not, their utilization of relational aggression may not be

effective in meeting their needs. Therefore, relationally aggressive individuals likely do possess

some aspects of empathy (perspective taking). The aspect of empathy that is not clearly evident

in relationally aggressive individuals is the ability to feel as others do.

Resource Control Theory

The Resource Control Theory (Hawley, 2003) could be used in combination with the

SIPM to inform hypotheses regarding the decision-making process of relationally aggressive

children. The Resource Control Theory hypothesizes that various interactions require

competition for resources (competition for attention of peers, a certain place in line, a desired

obj ect, etc). The presence of such competition prompts the use of "strategic control efforts."

These control efforts can be prosocial, coercive, or a mixture thereof. For example, a child who

would like to obtain a desired toy could think to themselves "I would like the toy Billy has. How

can I obtain that toy," they could then decide upon a "strategic control" strategy to utilize. The

child could decide upon a prosocial strategy (think to her/himself, "I could ask Billy for the toy"

and then ask Billy "May I play with that toy, please?"), or a coercive strategy (think to

her/himself "if I push Joey, and he runs into Billy, Billy will probably push Joey back, and the

teacher may put Billy in time out, and I will get to play with the toy Billy has."). Bistrategic

controllers, or children who use a mixture of prosocial and coercive control methods, are

commonly the most relationally aggressive children in their peer groups (Hawley, 2003). These

individuals are likely skilled at taking the perspectives of peers and matching the use of their

control strategy to their current situations. Hawley (2003) found that relationally aggressive

bistrategic controllers have higher levels of moral maturity than their less relationally aggressive










peers. Moreover, these individuals likely have better developed language abilities than their non-

relationally aggressive peers. As such, it could be hypothesized that relationally aggressive

preschool-aged children may be more mature with regard to empathy-related perspective taking

skills than their non-relationally aggressive peers.

Relational Aggression in Early Childhood

As mentioned previously, relational aggression occurs when a peer uses her/his

relationship as a means to harm, threaten, or persuade another peer to engage in or not engage in

a specific behavior. Relational aggression can include social exclusion as a way to retaliate

(Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). For example, when a preschooler says "I won't be your friend unless

you let me paint with that brush," (s)he is engaging in relational aggression.

Though this form of aggression is most commonly found among adolescent females, it can

be seen as early as the preschool years (Bonica, Arnold, Fisher, Zajo, & Yershova, 2003; Crick,

Casas, & Mosher, 1997; Crick et al., 2001; McEvoy et al., 2003). During the preschool years,

young children's social skills are developing. As such, the relationally aggressive acts exhibited

by these children are usually direct and obvious. For example, it is much more likely that you

will hear a preschooler tell a peer that she will not be her friend than to have that preschooler

spread a rumor about the peer (Crick et al., 2001).

The maj ority of the research examining relational aggression among preschoolers has

found it to be most common among female preschoolers (Bonica et al., 2003; Crick et al., 1997;

Crick et al., 2001; Crick et al., 2006; McNeilly-Choque, Hart, Robinson, Nelson, & Olsen,

1996). However, McEvoy and colleagues (2003) found that preschool boys engage in both

relational and physical aggression more often than preschool girls. More specifically, McEvoy et

al. found relational aggression was the most common form of aggression among preschool

females; yet, preschool boys were found to engage in more acts of relational aggression than









preschool girls. However, these Eindings have not been replicated. McEvoy and colleagues point

out that their Eindings are discrepant with regard to the current literature and suggest that there is

a need to examine this further in order to place confidence in these Eindings.

Estreem (2005) assessed the language abilities and aggressiveness of 100 preschool-aged

children. Results indicated that overall incidences of relational and physical aggression tend to

decrease as language skills increase. However relational aggression and physical aggression were

not differentiated. Park, Essex, Zahn-Waxler, and colleagues (2005) also found language skills to

be lower in individuals who exhibit relational and physical aggression. Again, Park and

colleagues did not consider the differences inherent in the types of aggression exhibited.

When the type of aggression being measured was held constant, relationally aggressive

preschool-aged girls tended to exhibit higher expressive language skills than non-relationally

aggressive and than physically aggressive preschool-aged girls (Estrem, 2005). Similarly, Bonica

and colleagues (2003) found expressive language skills and receptive language skills to be better

developed in relationally aggressive individuals than in individuals who did not exhibit

significant relationally aggressive characteristics. These Eindings are consistent with hypotheses

posited by Crick and colleagues (1997), suggesting that relational aggression among

preschoolers may be facilitated by strong verbal language skills.

Additionally, Sebanc (2003) assessed the role of friendships in young children's aggressive

acts. Specifically, relationally aggressive children and overtly aggressive children were found to

have friendships ridden with conflict. However, relationally aggressive children tended to

experience more exclusive and more intimate friendships than children who were not relationally

aggressive, suggesting that the social abilities of relationally aggressive children may not be

under-developed (Sebanc, 2003). Simon (2002) also found evidence that the social abilities of









relationally aggressive young children may be average or above average. For example, Simon

demonstrated that the empathy-related perspective taking skills of relationally aggressive

preschool boys was well-developed when compared to the perspective taking skills of non-

relationally aggressive peers. However, the relationship between empathy-related perspective

taking skills and relational aggression in females was not significant. Moreover, this study has

not been replicated, demonstrating the need for future studies to further investigate this

construct' s link to relational aggression in young children.

Assessment of Relational Aggression

Relational aggression has traditionally been assessed in elementary, middle, and high

school students using teacher ratings and peer nominations. (See Appendix B for an overview of

the methods used to assess relational aggression and Appendix C for a list of the limitations of

each form of assessment). The traditional methods for assessing relational aggression among

preschool students include the use of teacher ratings and peer nominations (Bonica et al., 2003;

Crick et al., 1997; Crick et al., 2001; McEvoy et al., 2003; McNeilly-Choque et al., 1996).

Specifically, the two most common tools utilized for assessing relational aggression among

preschool children include the Preschool Social Behavior Scale-Teacher Form (PSBS-T) (See

Appendix D) and the Preschool Social Behavior Scale-Peer Form (PSBS-P), each of which were

originally developed by Crick and colleagues in 1997.

Preschool Social Behavior Scale- Teacher Form

The PSBS-T is a teacher rating scale utilized with teachers of 3-year-old to 5-year-old

students. This scale consists of 25 items divided into 4 scales (i.e., the relational aggression scale,

overt/physical aggression scale; prosocial behavior scale; and depressed affect scale). Six of the

total items reliably assess relational aggression; another 6 reliably assess overt, physical

aggression; 4 reliably asses prosocial behavior, and 3 reliably assess depressed affect










(Chronbach's a = .87-.96) (Crick et al., 1997; Crick, Ostrov, Appleyard, Janeson, & Casas,

2004). This scale is simple to administer. Likewise, scoring is not complicated. On the other

hand, the PSB S-T relies upon the teacher' s subj ective opinion; and, the limited number of items

included on this scale could impair its reliability.

Preschool Social Behavior Scale- Peer Form

The PSBS-P is a peer nomination measure used with children ages 3 to 5. During an

assessment utilizing the PSB S-P, children engage in two 15-minute interview sessions with an

examiner. During these sessions, a picture nomination procedure is utilized to reliably assess

relational aggression (Chronbach's a = .71), overt physical aggression (Chronbach's a = .77),

and prosocial behavior (Chronbach' s a = .68). The total scale consists of 14 items. A total of 4

items are devoted to each construct (relational aggression, overt aggression, and prosocial

behavior), and 2 additional items are used to assess peer-rej section and peer-acceptance ratings

(Crick et al., 1997; Crick, et al., 2004). As with the PSBS-T, this assessment is simple to

administer and score. Conversely, outcomes could be negatively impacted if children discuss

their nominations after participating in the interview.

Direct Observations

The third most common method utilized in assessing relational aggression among

preschool students includes engaging in direct observations. This method could be utilized in

order to assess relational and physical aggression, relational aggression alone, or physical

aggression alone. When utilizing this method for the assessment of relational aggression, the

following operational definition is commonly employed: "any verbal or nonverbal behavior that

(a) excludes others from play or encourages others to exclude a child ("tells others not to play

with or be a peer' s friend") or (b) threatens to exclude or ignore ("You won't be invited to my

birthday party unless you give me that toy")" (McEvoy et al., 2003, p. 56).









In utilizing the direct observation method of assessing relational aggression, naturalistic

observations or semi-structured observations could take place. Using the naturalistic observation

method, children are observed in their natural setting. For example, these observations usually

take place on the playground, or in the preschool classroom. In engaging in direct, naturalistic

observations, a partial interval observation system is commonly employed. In this method, the

observation period is broken down into 10 second intervals. If any act of relational aggression

occurs anytime during a 10-second interval, it is marked accordingly. If more than a single

instance of relational aggression occurs during a 10-second interval, it is only marked once. The

rate of relational aggression is calculated by summing the observed frequency of relational

aggression and dividing it by the number of total possible occurrences for each child (Crick et

al., 2004; McEvoy et al., 2003).

As with the previous two assessment methods, this technique is simple and

straightforward. Similarly, because it is a direct observation occurring in a naturalistic setting, it

is authentic. Conversely, the observer is unable to know the extent of the impact of his/her

presence in the child's environment. The observer also is at a disadvantage because he/she must

get close enough to hear the verbal exchanges going on between children. While on a noisy

playground this may be difficult to do from afar.

In semi-structured, analogue observations one tries to elicit and capture (often on video-

tape) the types of peer interactions that naturally occur in the preschoolers' environment. For

example, a group of preschoolers may be asked to color in a coloring book, and not be given

enough crayons for everyone in the group. Essentially, the recordings of the peer interactions are

closely observed and all instances of relationally aggressive acts are recorded. This method is

relatively cost- and time-efficient; however, some authenticity may be lost (Crick et al., 2004).










Comparison of Three Methods

McEvoy and colleagues (2003) compared the 3 most commonly utilized methods of

assessing relational aggression among preschool students. Specifically, 59 preschool students

ranging in age from 42 months (i.e., 3 years, 6 months) to 70 months (i.e., 5 years, 10 months)

were assessed using the naturalistic direct observation method described above, the PSBS-T, and

the PSBS-P. Teacher and peers tended to identify the same children as relationally aggressive.

Direct observations of relational aggression, on the other hand, were not as strongly correlated to

peer nominations or teacher ratings. Importantly, when only rank order data pertaining to the

preschool girls were analyzed, there was agreement among the 3 methods utilized. The

relationship between direct observations, peer nominations, and teacher ratings was also assed

with regard to physical aggression. More agreement was found with regard to physical

aggression, possibly because it is easier to identify than relational aggression.

Correlates of Relational Aggression

The empirical literature is quite informative concerning the negative sequelae related to the

perpetration and victimization of relational aggression. Unfortunately, researchers provide few

suggestions regarding how to prevent or alter relational aggression. Prior to being able to

develop relational aggression prevention and intervention programs, data must be provided

regarding the correlates and predictors of relational aggression. The first step to ameliorating

relational aggression is accurate assessment of relational aggression, its correlates, and its

predictors. Inaccurate assessment of relational aggression or misinformation regarding predictors

and correlates of relational aggression renders interventions ineffective or even detrimental.

Early assessment and identification of relational aggression correlates is critical.

Previous researchers have demonstrated relational aggression is related to serious psycho-

social adjustment and peer relation problems. Currently there are few empirically validated









methods to prevent or intervene with relational aggression (The Ophelia Proj ect and the

Empower Program, Young, Boye, & Nelson, 2006) and none that address relational aggression

in young children (Merrell, Buchanan, & Tran, 2006). Prevention and intervention programs that

have been suggested for use in early childhood programs are often developed specifically for

preventing physical aggression. These programs are commonly language based programs that

address empathy. Language ability has been linked to relational aggression (Crick et al., 1997);

however, the link of empathy to relational aggression in young children has yet to be definitively

demonstrated. Many programs developed to address physical aggression focus on perspective

taking as a way to increase empathy and inadvertently decrease aggression. The utility of this

method to decrease relational aggression has not been empirically validated. As hypothesized

previously, using the Resource Control Theory in combination with the Social Information

Processing Model, relationally aggressive individuals may be quite skilled at empathy-related

perspective taking.

Studies testing models of relational aggression' s predictive variables and correlates are

needed in order to inform relational aggression intervention and prevention program

development. Significant relationships among language ability, social ability and gender exist.

Moreover, the relationship of relational aggression to language ability and to gender has been

demonstrated relationallyy aggressive individuals are often females with well-developed

language abilities). A model that systematically examines the relative contribution of each of

these variables (i.e., gender, language ability, and social ability) to relational aggression in young

children would likely prove quite useful in the further development of relational aggression

prevention and intervention programs.









Gender

Most researchers examining relational aggression among preschoolers have found it to

be most common among female preschoolers (Bonica et al., 2003; Crick et al., 1997; Crick et al.,

2001; McNeilly-Choque, Hart, Robinson, Nelson, & Olsen, 1996). However, McEvoy and

colleagues (2003) found that preschool boys engage in both relational and physical aggression

more often than preschool girls. More specifically, McEvoy et al. found relational aggression

was the most common form of aggression among preschool females; however, preschool boys

were found to engage in more acts of relational aggression than preschool girls. These findings

have not been replicated, highlighting the need for future research to further examine this

phenomenon.

Language Ability

Estreem (2005) assessed the language abilities and physical and relational

aggressiveness of 100 preschool-aged children. Results indicated that overall incidences of

aggression tend to decrease as language skills increase. Park, Essex, Zahn-Waxler and colleagues

(2005) also found language skills to be lower in individuals who exhibit relational and physical

aggression. Each of these findings did not consider the differences inherent in the types of

aggression exhibited. When the type of aggression being measured was held constant,

relationally aggressive preschool-aged girls tended to exhibit higher expressive language skills

than non-relationally aggressive and than physically aggressive preschool-aged girls (Estrem,

2005). Similarly, Bonica and colleagues (2003) found expressive language skills and receptive

language skills to be better developed in relationally aggressive females than in females who did

not exhibit significant relationally aggressive characteristics.









Discrepancies in the literature concerning whether expressive language skills, receptive

language skills, or both are better developed in relationally aggressive preschoolers warrants

further investigation of these constructs.

Empathy and Perspective Taking Skills

Loudin, Loukas, and Robinson (2003) examined the empathy-related perspective taking

skills and empathic concern present in college students who exhibited relational aggression and

in those who did not. Lower levels of perspective taking skills were found to be related to higher

levels of relational aggression. Empathic concern was not found to be related to relational

aggression in females. However, lower levels of empathic concern were predictive of higher

levels of relational aggression in males. Crick and colleagues (2004) postulate that similar

Endings are likely to be found with younger samples. However, clear evidence of the occurrence

of such Eindings in younger samples has not been demonstrated.

Simon (2002) assessed psychosocial correlates of relational aggression in 135 preschool-

aged children. Affective perspective-taking skills (i.e., empathy-related perspective taking skills)

were found to be significantly related to relational aggression in preschool aged boys.

Specifically, preschool-aged boys who were found to be relationally aggressive were also found

to have well-developed empathy-related perspective taking skills. The relationship between

empathy-related perspective taking skills and relational aggression in females was not

significant. These Eindings, along with Crick' s divergent hypothesis and the contrasting findings

Loundin et al. obtained using a college sample demonstrate the need to further assess the

constructs of relational aggression and empathy-related perspective taking skills.

Social Competence and Friendships

The role of social abilities in relation to the predication of relational aggression in young

children has not been clearly demonstrated in the literature. Nevertheless, Sebanc (2003) found









certain friendship characteristics are more commonly seen in relationally aggressive preschoolers

than in their non-relationally aggressive peers. For example, relationally aggressive children and

overtly aggressive children were found to have friendships ridden with conflict. However,

relationally aggressive children tended to experience more exclusive and more intimate

friendships than children who were not relationally aggressive. The latter finding suggests that

the social abilities of relationally aggressive children may be sufficiently developed when

compared to non-relationally aggressive peers (Sebanc, 2003). Relatedly, Anderou (2006) found

elementary-aged relationally aggressive children are commonly popular but not liked by peers,

and are often skilled at perspective-taking. Similarly, Simon (2002) found empathy-related

perspective taking skills to be better developed in relationally aggressive preschool boys than in

non-relationally aggressive preschool boys, demonstrating the need to further assess this

construct in relation to the prediction of relational aggression in early childhood.

Family Factors

Werner, Senich, and Przepyszny (2006) examined mothers' responses to scenarios of

physical aggression as compared to their responses to scenarios of relational aggression among

preschool children. Findings indicate mothers view relational aggression less negatively than

physical aggression. Moreover, mothers were found to be less likely to intervene in situations of

relational aggression when compared to situations of physical aggression.

Similarly, Casas and colleagues (2006) examined the parent-child relationships of young

children and how the use of relational aggression fluctuates as a function of those relationships.

Mothers' use of a permissive parenting style was found to be predictive of relational aggression

when effects due to age and gender were controlled. Moreover, each parent' s use of

psychological control was found to be positively correlated to relational aggression in females









and to physical aggression in males. The father's use of love withdrawal also was found to be

predictive of male participants' use of relational aggression.

Relational aggression among siblings also has been found to be predictive of relational

aggression among young children. For example, Ostrov, Crick, and Stauffacher (2006) found

that preschoolers who have older siblings who utilize relationally aggressive strategies are more

likely to engage in relational aggression among peers. However, relational aggression appears to

be more commonly applied to sibling-dyads than to peer-dyads at age 4. This trend no longer

appears to be present at age 8, when relational aggression between friends appears to increase

(Stauffaucher & DeHart, 2006).

Significance of Physical Aggression in Early Childhood

Physically aggressive acts are common among very young children. For instance, toddlers

will often push, bite, shove, or hit other children when they become angry. As individuals move

into the preschool years, they tend to turn to verbal aggression, including yelling at other

children and having temper tantrums (Coie & Dodge, 1997). Physical aggression exhibited in the

early childhood years can be a predictor of aggression in later childhood and adolescence.

Additionally, early aggression has been related to adolescent antisocial behavior and

delinquency. Several factors influence the actual development of aggression in children but once

established a repeated pattern of physical aggression becomes a detrimental and stable trait,

highlighting the need for early intervention.

Physical aggression is a social and personal problem that could have serious negative

outcomes. Aggression comes at a grave personal cost to the individual and at a great expense to

the community and society as a whole. On a personal level, some aggressive children tend to

have higher rates of delinquent acts, lower academic achievement, poor peer relationships, as

well as mental health issues. Clearly, these personal difficulties translate into serious social









problems such as involvement in the justice system, school dropout, poor community bonds, and

mental illness (Huesmann, Eron, & Dubow, 2002; Risi, Gerhardstein, & Kistner, 2003;

McMonagle, 2006; Miller-Johnson, Coie, Maumary-Gremaud, & Bierman, 2002).

The maj ority of aggressive children do not grow up to become aggressive adults. A small

percentage of children who display aggressive behavior continue the pattern into adolescence

and adulthood, often across multiple settings. These children are often referred to as early starters

(Moffitt, 1993; Taylor, lacono, & McGue, 2000). Early starters are on a developmental trajectory

of increasing severity and multiplicity of problem behaviors.

Delinquency

Miller-Johnson and colleagues (1999) found physical aggression and corresponding peer

rej section in a sample of 3rd graders predicted various delinquent acts in 6th, 8th, and 10th grade.

Relatedly, Coie and colleagues (1992) followed two cohorts of third graders through their first

year of middle school. The children who displayed physical aggression at the onset of the study

(i.e. at the beginning of third grade) were found to have higher levels of externalizing behavior

problems at the end of the study. This suggests early physical aggression predicted later

adolescent disorders. These two studies both involved samples that represented low SES, African

American populations; however, another study by Huesmann and colleagues (2002) contained a

sample that was primarily middle class and representative of various ethnicities. Huesmann et al.

(2002) identified early physical aggression and peer rej section in a sample of third graders as a

risk factor for an increased likelihood of being arrested for various crimes up to 22 years later.

Consistent findings also are provided using younger populations. For example, in another

study Miller-Johnson and colleagues (2002) followed a group of first grade students who were

physically aggressive and rej ected by peers. These students were found to experience conduct









problems in the fourth grade. Moreover, physical aggression at the onset of the study was

predictive of impulsive and emotionally reactive behaviors at the end of the study.

Broidy and colleagues (2003) investigated the stability of physically aggressive behavior in

a longitudinal study that evaluated participants from as early as birth through adolescence.

Participants were representative of three countries, with two sites in each country. The findings

suggested that problematic behavior (physical aggression) remained stable throughout the child's

development. Interestingly, the participants from the United States were the only children to

show an increase in problematic behaviors as they aged. The later suggests that the climate in the

United States may support physically aggressive behavior. Early childhood physically aggressive

behavior again was found to be a predictor of adolescent delinquent acts (Broidy et al., 2003)

Educational Outcomes

Risi, Gerhardstein, and Kistner (2003) and Kupersmidt and Coie (1990) also found that

physically aggressive children are more likely to drop out of school. Ensminger and Slusarckick

(1992) explored aggressive behavior in relation to low academic and occupational achievement.

Results indicated physical aggression in early elementary school is highly correlated with later

school dropout. Previous research indicated children with behavior problems, especially in early

childhood, tend to experience poor academic achievement and school failure (Barrington and

Hendricks, 1989; Cairns, Cairns, and Neckerman, 1989; Hawkins et al, 1991; Risi, Gerhardstein,

& Kistner, 2003; Shinn, Ramsey, Walker, O'Neill, & Steiber, 1987; Trembley, 1992). Whether

physical aggression is directly related to low achievement or confrontations with teachers

remains unclear. However, confrontation with teachers is related to low teacher expectations,

which then impacts school achievement (Brophy, 1983; Meyer, 1985).









Mental Health Outcomes

Mental health and psychopathology also are concerns for children with physically

aggressive tendencies. A significant childhood factor related to later drug and alcohol use is

physical aggression. McMonagle (2006) found high school students who used drugs, smoked,

and abused alcohol were more likely to engage in physically aggressive behaviors. Moreover,

Kellam, Brown, Rubin, and Ensminger (1983) found in a longitudinal study of African American

children followed from age 6 years to 16-17 years that early physical aggression influenced

substance use. Ferguson and Horwood (1998) examined early conduct problems and later life

opportunities; the conduct problem definition included aggression. Conclusions indicated that

children with early-onset conduct problems are at-risk for substance abuse as well as other

mental health concerns.

Interpersonal Outcomes

Interpersonal relationships are tremendously difficult for children demonstrating physically

aggressive behaviors because physically aggressive children often have difficulty interpreting

social cues properly (Crick & Dodge, 1994). They tend to assign more hostile intentions than is

meant by the sender of the social message (de Castro, Welmoet, Willem, Veerman, & Bosch,

2005; Dodge, 1985; Milich & Dodge, 1984). This misinterpretation, especially in early

childhood, often results in physically aggressive actions.

Altepeter and Korger (1999), and Shinn, O'Neill, and Ramsey (1987) found physically

aggressive children have poor peer social relations. Rej section, especially in early childhood, is

linked to later aggressive and violent behaviors (U. S Department of Health and Human Services,

2001). Due to lack of social skills, physically aggressive children are often rej ected by their peers

(Coie, Dodge, & Kupersmidt, 1990). However, as these children grow older and reach

adolescence, they are not completely friendless. In fact, they frequently hold membership in









social groups that have similar experiences and attitudes (Cairns, 1988), thus, perpetuating a

cycle of aggression and rej section.

Physical Aggression Intervention Programs

The study of physical aggression has evolved throughout the years, and many predictors

and correlates of physical aggression (being male, being from a low SES background, growing

up in a violent neighborhood, being born to young parents who use harsh punishment, parental

conflict, marital discord, coercive relationships with parents, difficult temperaments, socially

rej ected, low school achievement, low language abilities, etc.) have been repeatedly identified

(Coie & Dodge, 1997; Juvonen & Graham, 2001; Lavigne, Cicchetti, Gibbons, Binns, Larsen, &

Devitto, 2001; Mathesen & Sanson, 2000; McEvoy et al., 2003; Monks et al., 2002 Pierce,

Ewing, & Campbell, 1999). Unlike researchers who study relational aggression, researchers who

study physical aggression have had plenty of empirical data related to the correlates of physical

aggression to rely upon when devising physical aggression intervention programs.

Within early childhood, general strategies used to combat physical aggression include

home visits, parenting programs, marital and family therapy, and early childhood education.

Moreover, when addressing youth and/or adolescents many strategies focus on teaching problem

solving skills, violence prevention curricula, mentoring, peer mediation, peer counseling, and

vocational training/employment (Kellerman, Fuqua-Whitley, Rivara, & Mercy, 1998). A

description of some specific programs frequently cited in the literature follows.

Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum

Though other primary prevention programs (e.g., Peace Builders Program, Resolving

Conflict Creatively Program) are cited in the literature, Second Step Violence Prevention

Curriculum (i.e., Second Step) is one of the programs most frequently discussed. Second Step

was developed by the Committee for Children and is implemented by teachers of children










preschool aged through eighth grade. It focuses on teaching impulse control, anger management,

and empathy to the students involved in the program via the use of class discussions, role-

playing, modeling, corrective feedback, and contingent positive reinforcement (Leff, Power,

Manz, Costigan, & Nabors, 2001).

Grossman and colleagues (1997) conducted a pretest-posttest control group design with

790 second and third graders to measure the effectiveness of Second Step. In this study, all

second graders in specified schools were targeted. When parent and teacher ratings were utilized,

they found a positive modest effect for the intervention. More specifically, after the intervention

implementation, teachers and parents reported a decrease in physical aggression and an increase

in prosocial behaviors in the lunchroom and on the playground. Therefore, Second Step has been

shown to not only decrease levels of physical aggression but also increase levels of prosocial

behaviors (Grossman et al., 1997). However, Second Step's ability to decrease levels of

relational aggression has not been empirically validated.

Play Time/Social Time: Organizing Your Classroom to Build Social Interaction Skills

Kamps and colleagues (2000) implemented a social intervention to physical aggression

which included social skills training with reinforcement and peer tutoring. Two cohorts of

children from Head Start participated in this study. The first cohort began with 33 children in

kindergarten; however ended up with only 19 children in first-grade. The second cohort began

with 20 children in preschool, however ended up with 12 children in kindergarten. Each child

who participated was identified as having heightened behavioral risks.

In the first year of intervention, students in Cohort 1 engaged in affection activities, and

received social skills instruction using Play Time/Social Time: Organizing You Classroom to

Build Interaction Skills, a curriculum developed at Vanderbilt University and the University of

Minnesota. Affection activities occurred 2 to 4 times per week, and social skills lessons occurred









1 to 3 times per week. Cohort 1 received 2 years of intervention followed by peer tutoring in

reading. Cohort 2 received 2 years of intervention beginning in the second year of the study.

Their social skills' training was the same as the one used with Cohort 1. In each cohort, teachers

were instructed to provide reinforcement in the form of stickers on a chart when children were

"caught" using the skills taught during their social skills training lessons. Kamps and colleagues

(2000) found the use of social skills training coupled with reinforcement and peer tutoring

favorably impacted young physically aggressive children. However Play Time/Social Time's

usefulness with relationally aggressive children has yet to be demonstrated.

Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies

Another intervention program that has had positive effects on physical aggression in young

children is one devised by Kusche and Greenberg (1995) called "Promoting Alternative Thinking

Strategies" (PATHS) (in Leff et al., 2001). This program consists of discussions, direct

instruction, and modeling aimed at helping children to develop self-control, emotion regulation,

and problem solving skills. Originally developed for use with deaf children, it has since been

adapted and empirically validated for use with various other populations, including regular

education children. The obj ective of PATHS is to help children develop appropriate problem

solving skills, self-control, and emotional regulation.

The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group (1999) found a modest positive effect

on peer sociometric measures of physical aggression for children who participated in the PATHS

program. Although the effect size was small, findings were consistent across school location

(urban and rural), socioeconomic status, and ethnic composition of classrooms involved in the

study. No overall differences were found between control and intervention groups on teacher

ratings of classroom aggression; however, teachers who implemented the program with higher

treatment integrity did report significant decreases in classroom aggression (in Leff et al., 2001).









In a similar study, Kamp and colleagues (2003) found PATHS was not only effective in

decreasing physical aggression in schools, but also in improving children's emotional

competence. Two factors were found to contribute to successful outcomes from PATHS:

adequate support from the school principle, and high treatment integrity by teachers

implementing PATHS (Kamp, Greenberg, & Walls, 2003). In each of these studies, the PATHS

program was used with young school-aged children who already exhibited physically aggressive

behaviors. No data are available regarding PATHS efficacy for use with relationally aggressive

children.

First Step to Success

Walker and colleagues (1998) developed another prevention program called First Step to

Success to prevent antisocial behaviors from developing in disruptive and aggressive

kindergartners. With this program, a screening procedure is used to identify the most at-risk

kindergarteners. Next, a classroom-based intervention is used to increase prosocial behaviors and

decrease physically aggressive or disruptive behaviors in these at-risk kindergarteners. A group

dependent contingency procedure incorporating adult praise, peer support and approval, and

careful monitoring of performances is used in this phase. Target children are able to earn group

privileges, individual privileges, or home rewards for engaging in appropriate behaviors. The

final component of this program involves home based parent training in which parents are taught

how to teach the target child school-related skills. In this phase, the importance of home and

school communication is emphasized.

Walker and colleagues (1998) evaluated the effectiveness of their program using an

experimental-waitlist/control group design. The experimental group consisted of 24

kindergarteners who participated in the First Step to Success program for a 3-month period prior

to the control/waitlist group participating in the program. Results from this program have shown









decreases in the amount of physically aggressive behaviors teachers report. Additionally, after

implementation, teachers have reported increases in both adaptive behaviors and on-task

behaviors (in Leff et al., 2001; Walker, Stiller, Severson, Feil, & Golly, 1998). First Steps to

Success also has not been empirically validated for use with relationally aggressive children.

FAST Track Prevention Program

The Conduct Prevention Research Team investigated the use of the FAST Track

Prevention Program. They "demonstrated that a combination of parent training sessions, case

manager home visits, social-cognitive therapeutic interventions, and academic/classroom

interventions for elementary school children can lead to greater problem solving competence and

fewer (physically) aggressive and disruptive behavioral outbursts" (in Fields & McNamara,

2003, p. 76). The sample utilized by the Conduct Prevention Research Team included individuals

who, by age 5, were identified as being at risk for chronic violence and conduct problems. These

at-risk individuals were referred to as "early starters." This study was conducted across four

varying geographical sites. Schools in each area were chosen for inclusion in this study based

upon high rates of crime and poverty in the neighborhoods in which they resided. Children at

each school included in this study were chosen on the basis of both parent ratings of the child's

behavior at home and teacher ratings of the child's behavior at school. Entire schools served as

intervention sites or control sites. The families of each child who was targeted for intervention

also participated in this study. The total intervention consisted of parent group meetings, tutoring

for the students, consultations with teachers, home visits, and skill-building groups for the

children. Data were obtained using teacher reports, parent reports, child interviews and peer

ratings. By the end of this four-year study, the intervention group tended to have significantly

lower parent reported oppositional and aggressive behaviors. Interestingly, parenting behavior

change found during grade 3 significantly accounted for the relationship between the effect of









the intervention on aggressive and oppositional behaviors during grade 4. Moreover, the

researchers found that by grade 4, the control group received significantly lower peer preference

scores than the intervention group did. Additionally, the intervention group reported having

fewer friends abusing one or more substances than the control group did. This outcome appeared

to be accounted for, at least partially, by hostile attributions held during grade 3. The intervention

did appear to have positive effects on the reduction of parent's harsh physical discipline

practices, on the improvement of children's social and academic competence at school, and on

the improvement of social problem solving skills. Furthermore, processes targeted during the

first three years of this intervention were found to predict outcomes during the fourth year of this

study (Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, 2002). Again, the FAST Track Prevention

Program was not devised for use with relationally aggressive individuals.

Additional Physical Aggression Intervention Programs

A myriad of additional physical aggression intervention and prevention programs have

been empirically validated, and are present within the physical aggression literature (The Peer-

Coping Skills training (Prinz, Blechman, & Dumas, 1994), Tools for Getting Along (Smith,

Miller, & Daunic, 2002), the Incredible Years Training Series (Webster-Stratton, 2000),

ACHIEVE: A Collaborative School-based Reform Process (Knoff & Batsche, 1994), Bullying

Prevention Program (Olweus, Limber, Mihalic, 1999), etc.). None of these programs have been

empirically validated for use with relationally aggressive individuals. The literature related to the

prevention and intervention of relational aggression is scarce to nonexistent. Relational

aggression is governed by different processes than physical aggression. As such, the use of

physical aggression programs to ameliorate relational aggression could prove to be detrimental.

In order to inform relational aggression intervention efforts, more data is needed regarding the

correlates and contributing factors of relational aggression.










Purpose of the Present Study

The empirical literature is quite informative concerning availability and efficacy of

intervention programs designed to ameliorate physical aggression. Additionally, the negative

sequelae associated with the perpetration and victimization of relational aggression are

highlighted in the literature. Unfortunately, researchers provide few suggestions regarding how

to prevent or alter relational aggression. Many of the intervention programs designed to

ameliorate physical aggression have been used in hopes of also decreasing relational aggression.

However, data are not available to support the use of these programs for the intervention of

relational aggression. Moreover, the goal of many physical aggression prevention/intervention

programs is to increase perspective taking skills. Use of the Resource Control Theory (Hawley,

2003) to explain relational aggression provides support for the idea which states relational

aggressors may be quite skilled at perspective taking skills. More specifically, the Resource

Control Theory postulates that relational aggressors may rely upon and utilize perspective taking

skills in the perpetration of relational aggression. Prior to being able to develop relational

aggression prevention and intervention programs, data must be provided regarding the correlates

of relational aggression. Moreover, data are needed to inform how correlates of relational

aggression differ from correlates of physical aggression. The first step to ameliorating relational

aggression is accurate assessment and identification. Inaccurate assessment or misinformation

regarding predictors and correlates of relational aggression renders interventions ineffective or

even detrimental. Early assessment and identification are critical.

Previous researchers have demonstrated relational aggression is related to serious psycho-

social adjustment and peer relation problems. Currently there are few empirically validated

methods to prevent or intervene with relational aggression, and none that address relational

aggression in young children. Prevention and intervention programs that have been suggested for









use in early childhood programs are often language based programs that address perspective

taking skills. Language ability has been linked to relational aggression; however, the specifics

related to the types of language abilities that are linked to relational aggression in each gender

have not been clearly replicated. Therefore, a need to further investigate the role language plays

in relational aggression is present. Additionally, the link of perspective taking to relational

aggression has yet to be clearly demonstrated, highlighting the need for future research to

address this correlate. Although the maj ority of studies assessing relational aggression in early

childhood have found this type of aggression to be most common among females (Crick et al.,

1997), McEvoy et al. (2003) found male preschoolers engaged in relational aggression more

often than female preschoolers. These discrepant findings justify the further investigation of the

role gender plays in the prediction of relational aggression.

The current proj ect assesses correlates of relational aggression in early childhood.

Specifically, an examination of how correlates of relational aggression in early childhood differ

from correlates of physical aggression is conducted. The following research questions are

addressed by the current study:

1) Is relational and physical aggression related in preschool children?

2) What is the relationship between relational aggression and the following predictor
variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive language abilities?

3) What is the relationship between physical aggression and the following predictor
variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive language abilities?

The Social Information Processing Model (SIPM) has been used to explain physically

aggressive behavior by many researchers (Coie & Cillessen, 1993; Dodge, Lansford, Salzer

Burks, Bates, Pettit, Fontaine, & Price, 2003; Salzer Burks, Laird, & Dodge, 1999; Webster-

Stratton & Lindsay, 1999). In fact, most studies that link social information processing to the use









of aggressive behavior directed towards peers focuses on physical aggression (Crick, Grotpeter,

& Bigbee, 2002). However, Crick and colleagues (1995, 1999) have begun to demonstrate the

usefulness of the SIPM in explaining relational aggression.

The SIPM suggests that physically aggressive children lack perspective taking skills

when deciding upon a response to the actions of others. The current study seeks to clarify how

relationally aggressive preschoolers differ with regard to perspective taking skills and language

when they are compared to non-relationally aggressive preschoolers and when they are compared

to physically aggressive preschoolers. Additionally, the current study hypothesizes that

relationally aggressive children use their knowledge of how others may feel when engaging in

the manipulation of social relationships. If data support this possibility, researchers who study

aggression will be able to support the notion that the SIPM is used in a completely different

manner by physical aggressors than by relational aggressors. Furthermore, this increased

knowledge could lead to further development of models used to explain relational aggression.

These improved models could, in turn, be able to be utilized to inform the development of

relational aggression intervention and prevention programs.









CHAPTER 2
METHODOLOGY

Participants

Participants included 103 children aged 4 years, O months to 5 years, 9 months from early

childhood programs in Alachua County, Florida. The sample size was determined via the use of

power analyses. A sample of more than 90 participants was found to be adequate to answer the

proposed questions. English speaking children of all differing ability levels were invited to

participate in this study. Any child who met the above mentioned criteria and attended one of the

designated early childhood centers during the data collection phase of this proj ect was invited to

participate.

Teachers of each of the participating children also were asked to participate in this study.

For every 5 teacher rating scales a teacher completed, the teacher was provided with a $10

Target gift card to be used for classroom supplies as compensation and incentive for participating

in this study.

Procedure

After IRB approval was obtained, the directors of various early childhood programs in

Alachua County were approached and asked if they would allow for doctoral dissertation data to

be collected at their sites. When the directors of the programs agreed to allow for data collection

to occur at their site, teachers of 4- and 5- year-old children were asked to participate in this

study. Teachers were informed that they would be asked to complete a 25-item rating scale for

each participating child. Moreover, teachers were informed of the $10 Target gift cards they

would receive as compensation and incentive for their participation. Next, teachers who agreed

to participate in this study were asked to help recruit and obtain parental permission from the

parents of the students in their classrooms.









After teacher agreement for participation and parental permission had been obtained,

demographic information for each child included in this proj ect was collected. Specifically,

information regarding the language spoken in the home and the age of the child was collected.

Additionally, data related to classroom climate was obtained. Particularly information regarding

the number of students in each classroom, the number of teachers in each classroom, and the

average number of classroom discipline referrals per year was obtained. Then, information

regarding the climate of the early childhood centers was obtained. Specifically, information

regarding the accreditation status of the centers, the average number of discipline referrals per

center per year, and the number of students receiving subsidized child care services was

gathered. Next, classroom teachers were asked to fill out the Preschool Social Behavior Scale-

Teacher Form (PSBS-T) for each child participating in the study (Crick et al., 1997).

The expressive language abilities of each participant was assessed using the Expressive

Vocabulary Test (EVT) (Williams, 1997), and the Early Childhood Social Cognitions Interview

(ECSCI) was used to reliably measure each participating child's level of perspective taking skills

(Smith, Jones, & Wojtalewicz, 2001 in Wojtalewicz, 2004). Additional questions regarding the

relational aggression perspective taking skills of each participating child were asked.

Specifically, children were asked following questions: 1) "Megan wanted a doll Rachel was

playing with. Megan told Rachel that she would not be invited to the birthday party if Rachel did

not let Megan play with the doll. How do you think Rachel will feel?" and 2) "Chad was playing

with the blocks at school today. Joe was painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play with the blocks

too. So, Chad told Joe that he would not be Joe's friend if Joe did not play with the blocks too.

How do you think Joe will feel?"









Measures

Teacher ratings of relational aggression, teacher ratings of physical aggression, expressive

language ability, and perspective taking skills were assessed for each participant. The measures

which were utilized are described below.

Preschool Social Behavior Scale- Teacher Form

The PSBS-T is a teacher rating scale utilized with teachers of 3-years-old to 5-years-old

students. This scale consists of 25 items divided into 4 scales (i.e., the relational aggression scale,

overt/physical aggression scale; prosocial behavior scale; and depressed affect scale). Six of the

total items reliably assess relational aggression; another 6 reliably assess overt, physical

aggression; 4 reliably asses prosocial behavior, and 3 reliably assess depressed affect

(Chronbach's a = .87-.96) (Crick et al., 1997; Crick, Ostrov, Appleyard, Janeson, & Casas,

2004). This 5-point Likert rating scale was simple to administer. For example, teachers were

given a copy of the PSB S-T for each child included in the study. Teachers rated each child' s

behavior on a 5-point scale ranging from never or almost never true for this child to always or

almost always true for this child. Items included statements such as: This child threatens not to

be friends with a peer if the peer does not engage in this child' s preferred activity. Moreover,

scoring was not complicated. For each of the 4 scales (i.e., relational aggression; overt, physical

aggression; prosocial behavior; depressed affect) the rankings for each item included as part of

that scale was added together. The sum of rankings was utilized as the score for that scale.

Expressive Vocabulary Test

The Expressive Vocabulary Test (EVT) was utilized to quickly and accurately assess the

expressive language ability of each participant. The EVT is a reliable and valid individually

administered, norm-referenced assessment of expressive vocabulary and word retrieval. Two

sections are contained in the EVT: a section devoted to word identification, and a section









devoted to the use of synonyms. Evidence of reliability and validity is presented in the EVT

examiner' s manual. For example, split-half reliabilities range from .83 to .97, test-retest

reliabilities range from .77 to .90, and reliability alphas range from .90-.98. Moreover, evidence

of criterion-related validity is presented in the EVT manual. For example, EVT scores

moderately correlate with scores from the Oral Expression section of the Oral and Written

Language Scales (OWLS) (r=.60 for children ages 4 to 8 and r-.86 for children ages 10 to 13).

The EVT also moderately correlates to the Verbal Intelligence Quotient of the Wechsler

Intelligence Scale for Children- Third Edition (WISC-III) (r-.72) (Williams, 1997).

Each child was administered the EVT by the principal investigator or a trained advanced

doctoral school psychology student specializing in early childhood. Scoring procedures

explained in the EVT manual were followed. Children were given 1 point for each correct

response. Raw EVT scores controlling age were used as a measure of expressive language

ability.

Early Childhood Social Cognitions

The Early Childhood Social Cognitions Interview (ECSCI) was used to reliably measure

children' s level of perspective taking (Chronbach' s a = .80). The ECSCI is a semi-structured

questionnaire designed to assess children's social cognitions related to the following areas: 1) the

child's emotional knowledge (i.e., ability to determine the emotional state of another); 2) the

child's ability to assume the perspective of another; and 3) the child's ability to use problem

solving in social situations (Smith, Jones, & Wojtalewicz, 2001 in Wojtalewicz, 2004). Evidence

of construct-related validity and content-related validity has been demonstrated (Wojtalewicz,

2004). (See Appendix E).

Each child was administered the ECSCI by the principal investigator or a trained advanced

doctoral school psychology student specializing in early childhood. The ECSCl used pictures









(males and females of varying ethnicities) to guide the interview process. Participants were asked

to identify the emotions/feelings of individuals depicted in the pictures. Next participants were

asked to identify what about the individual's face or body made the child participant think the

child was feeling the identified emotion. Participants then listened to a story about a boy who

was upset when he got to school. The boy in the story then received a hug from his teacher and

felt better. Participants were asked to label the boy's initial feeling, provide a reason why he may

have felt that way, label his feeling at the end of the story, and provide a reason why he may

have felt that way. The participants were shown a picture of a boy and a picture of a girl and told

the following story: "Jessica loves clowns, but Tyler is afraid of them. Their teacher tells them

that their class will be going to the circus and that there will be lots of clowns there." Participants

were then asked to explain how Jessica would feel, how Tyler would feel, and how Jessica could

help Tyler feel better. Finally, participants were show a picture of 2 children (matching the

gender of the participant) and a toy ball. Each of the children in the picture were given a name

(Tyler and Matt if boys, Jessica and Amy if girls). The children were told the following story:

", (child A) has been playing with this ball for a long time and _(child B) wants a

chance to get to play with it. But _(child A) keeps on playing with it. What can _(child B)

do so s/he can have a chance to play with it?" After children provided an initial answer, they

were encouraged to think of as many ways as possible child B could use to get a chance to play

with the ball.

Participants' verbatim responses were written down by the examiner. Responses were then

entered into an excel spreadsheet to be scored. Participants responses were scored according to

the following criteria: Part A: Determining the Emotional State of Another (a) one point was

given for each correctly identified emotion in the Emotion Identification section of the ECSCI;









no points were given for incorrectly identified emotions (b) two points were given for every

correctly identified physical attribute as a cue for emotion identification ("teeth are showing"

would earn 2 points if a child is describing a happy face); one point was earned if the child only

stated a reason for the emotion ("she gets to play outside with her friend" would earn 1 point if

given as a reason the person in the picture is happy) (c) if the participant identified that Juan felt

angry or sad when he got to school the participant earned a point (d) if the participant gave a

logical reason whey Juan felt angry or sad when he got to school ("it was his first day at a new

school and he was scared") the participant earned a point (e) if the participant identified that Juan

felt better after his teacher gave him a hug the participant earned a point (f) if the participant

identified a logical reason why Juan felt better ("his teacher gave him a hug") the participant

earned a point. Part B: Perspective Taking (a) the participant earned a point if the participant

identified a positive emotion for Jessica (b) the participant earned a point if the participant

identified a negative emotion for Tyler (c) the participant earned a point for each identified

positive way that Jessica could help Tyler feel better. Part C: Problem Solving (a) the participant

earned a point for each answer (positive or negative) that explained what child B could do to get

a chance to play with the toy child A had.

Inter-rater reliability was determined by having an additional rater (i.e., a rater other than

the primary investigator) independently score 50% (n=52) of the transcribed answers. Raters

agreed upon the vast maj ority of ratings. The total number of agreements was divided by the

total number of agreements plus the total number of disagreements (i.e. total agreements/total

agreements + total disagreements). Using this formula, inter-rater reliability was calculated to be

98% (i.e. 51/(51+1)=.98). Disagreement occurred on one participant's ratings. The two raters

worked together to come to a consensus on what the appropriate rating should be for this item.









Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Questionnaire

Relational aggression perspective taking skills were preliminarily assessed using the

following two questions: 1) "Megan wanted a doll Rachel was playing with. Megan told Rachel

that she would not be invited to the birthday party if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll.

How do you think Rachel will feel?" and 2) "Chad was playing with the blocks at school today.

Joe was painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play with the blocks too. So, Chad told Joe that he

would not be Joe' s friend if Joe did not play with the blocks too. How do you think Joe will

feel?" Evidence of content-related validity is present in each of these questions. Additionally,

evidence of preliminary reliability is present (Chronbach's a = .59).

Participant' s answers were recorded verbatim. Then answers were sorted according to the

information provided. Participants provided the following answers: mad, happy, sad, mad and

sad, not happy, happy and sad, and I don't know.

Research Questions and Data Analysis

The following research questions guided the proposed study:


1) Is relational and physical aggression related in preschool children?

2) What is the relationship between relational aggression and the following predictor
variables: gender, perspective-taking skills, and expressive language abilities?

3) What is the relationship between physical aggression and the following predictor
variables: gender, perspective-taking skills, and expressive language abilities?

Variables were entered into SPSS and descriptive statistics were calculated for age,

gender, EVT raw scores, relational aggression raw scores as measured by the PSBS-T, physical

aggression raw scores as measured by the PSBS-T, perspective-taking raw scores as measured by

the ECSCI, relational aggression perspective taking ability, number of students per classroom,

number of teachers per classroom, number of center discipline referrals per year, and number of










children per center receiving subsidized child care. Group differences were examined using

ANOVAs .

The relationships between EVT raw scores, relational aggression raw scores, physical

aggression raw scores and ECSCI raw scores were calculated using Pearson product-moment

correlations.

Gender was treated as a categorical variable. Therefore, point biserial correlations were

conducted to determine the relationships between gender, relational aggression raw scores,

physical aggression raw scores, EVT raw scores, and ECSCI raw scores.

Full and reduced multiple regression models were analyzed to assess whether gender,

EVT scores, and ECSCI raw scores predict higher levels of relational aggression. Models to be

tested were determined based upon a priori hypotheses and correlation matrices. The following

reduced models based upon a priori hypotheses were tested: (a) relational aggression as a DV

and ECSCI raw scores as an IV, (b) physical aggression as a DV and ECSCI scores as an IV, (c)

relational aggression as a DV and EVT scores as an IV, and (d) physical aggression as a DV and

EVT scores as an IV. The following full models based upon findings from the correlation

matrices were tested using step-wise regression: relational aggression as a DV and number of

children per site, number of students in classroom, and number of adults in classroom as IVs.

Furthermore, because physical aggression was found to be highly correlated with male

gender, and because prosocial skills were found to be highly correlated with female gender,

categorical stepwise regression analyses were conducted using SPSS. Categorical regression is a

type of regression analysis that can be utilized when the independent variables include a

combination of nominal, ordinal and/or interval data. The following models were tested using

categorical stepwise regression analyses: (a) physical aggression as a DV and age, gender,









number of adults in classroom, and EVT scores as IVs, (b) prosocial score from PSBS-T as a DV

and gender, age and school site as IVs, (c) physical aggression as a DV and age, gender, EVT

score, ECSCI score, and number of adults in classroom as IVs.

Step-wise regression was determined to be acceptable due to the exploratory nature of

this study. Relying on data from models identified using stepwise regression is risky because this

method of data analysis capitalizes on chance. However, because stepwise regression was only

used in an exploratory nature, and as a result of data reduction, it could be considered acceptable

in this circumstance (Agresti & Finlay, 1999).

One-way ANOVAs were conducted to assess how the relational aggression perspective

taking skills relate to the relational aggression PSB S-T scores, physical aggression PSBS-T

scores, prosocial PSBS-T scores, EVT scores and ESCSI scores.









CHAPTER 3
RESULTS

The purpose of this study was to investigate how correlates of relational aggression in

early childhood differ from correlates of physical aggression. Specifically, the current study

sought to clarify how relationally aggressive preschoolers differ with regard to gender,

perspective-taking skills, and language when compared to non-relationally aggressive

preschoolers and when compared to physically aggressive preschoolers.

This chapter begins with an overview of descriptive statistics related to participant and

site characteristics. Next, correlations between EVT raw scores, relational aggression raw scores,

physical aggression raw scores, ECSCI raw scores, and gender are presented. Results of

regression analyses used to test the main hypotheses and hypotheses based upon data reduction

are presented. Subsequently, results of ANOVA analyses used to test the main hypotheses and

hypotheses based upon data reduction are presented. A summary of maj or findings and the

implications of these findings are discussed in chapter 4.

Descriptive Statistics

Participant Characteristics

The 103 child participants were evenly distributed for gender (female n= 51, male n=52).

Eighty-two percent were in a 4- and 5-year-old preschool class at an early childhood center or

elementary school; 8% were in a 3- and 4-year-old preschool class at an early childhood center;

and 10% attended kindergarten at an elementary school. See Table 3-1 for descriptive statistics

of participant characteristics. As is discussed in the following section, participants did not differ

on any important setting or environmental characteristics.









Class Characteristics

Sixty-four percent of participants attended a class which utilized the Second Step

Violence Prevention (Second Step) curriculum. This curriculum teaches emotion identification,

emotional regulation, and problem solving skills. The ECSCI was developed to assess the

effectiveness of the Second Step program. Therefore, utilization of Second Step in the maj ority

of the current sample may confound results of this study based upon the ECSCI data.

Analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicates that EVT varies according to class type

(F=15.62, p=.000), with children in kindergarten classes having better expressive language

abilities than children in preschool and pre-kindergarten classes. When analysis of covariance

(ANCOVA) was used to control for the effect of age on EVT scores, no EVT score differences

were found among the types of classrooms included in this study (F=.710, p=.494). This finding

is consistent with developmental theory and literature.

An ANOVA also indicated that prosocial skills vary according to class type (F=4.47,

p=.04); however when an ANCOVA was run to control for the effect of age, no differences were

found among each of the class types (F= .357, p=.700). Again, children's prosocial skills evolve

as they get older. Therefore, it is not surprising that kindergarten children exhibit more prosocial

behaviors than preschool children.

ANOVAs were also conducted to see if other variables of interest varied according to

class type. ECSCI scores, PSBS-T relational aggression scores, and PSB S-T physical aggression

scores did not vary according to class type. See table 3-2.

Site Characteristics

Seventeen percent of participants attended preschool at site A, 12% attended preschool at

site B, 24% attended preschool at site C, 13% attended preschool at site D, 26% attended

preschool or kindergarten at site E, and 8% attended preschool at site F. Each site had a









minimum of 2 teachers completing PSBS-Ts. Site A had 4 teachers completing PSBS-Ts, site B

had 2 teachers completing PSBS-Ts, site C had 7 teachers completing PSBS-Ts, site D had 2

teachers completing PSB S-Ts, site E had 4 teachers completing PSBS-Ts, and site F had 3

teachers completing PSBS-Ts.

Analyses of variances (ANOVAs) indicated that schools differed significantly with

regard to mean teacher-rated physical aggression (F=2.92, p=.017) and mean teacher-rated

prosocial skills (F=2.99, p=0.15). Post-hoc univariate analyses indicated only one site differed

significantly from the others. Specifically, site C differed significantly from site E with regard to

physical aggression (p=.004) and differed significantly from site F with regard to children's

prosocial skills (p=.031). No other significant differences between or among sites were found.

See table 3-3 for additional site and class characteristics descriptive statistics.

Data Reduction

Pearson product-moment correlations were used to examine the relationships between

EVT scores, relational aggression scores, physical aggression scores, prosocial scores, ECSCI

scores, number of adults in classroom, number of students in classroom, and age. Gender was

treated as a categorical variable. Therefore, point biserial correlations were conducted to

determine the relationships between gender, relational aggression raw scores, physical

aggression raw scores, prosocial scores, EVT scores, ECSCI scores, number of adults in

classroom, number of students in classroom, and age.

The number of adults in each class significantly correlated with physical aggression

(r-.266, p=.007) and relational aggression (r=.222, p=.024), as measured by the PSB S-T.

Specifically, as the number of adults in classrooms increased, the amount of teacher rated

physical and relational aggression increased. The number of students in each classroom (i.e.

students enrolled in each class) also significantly correlated with teacher-rated physical










aggression scores (r-.240, p=.01) and with teacher-rated relational aggression scores, as

measured by the PSBS-T. (r-.241, p=.01). As the number of students in each class increased, so

did the amount of physical and relational aggression. Additionally, the number of children at

each site (i.e. children enrolled in each site) significantly correlated with physical aggression

PSBS-T scores (r=.206, p=.036) and with relational aggression PSBS-T scores (r-.263, p=.007).

Again as the number of children enrolled at each site increased, the amount of teacher rated

physical and relational aggression also increased. Finally, a site's use of Second Step correlated

with ECSCI scores (r-.310, p=.001), with sites who implemented the Second Step curriculum

having students who scored higher on the ECSCI, as would be expected. Table 3-4 depicts

correlations that were found among maj or independent and dependent variables of interest.

Table 3-4 illustrates that physical aggression and male gender were significantly

correlated (r=.373, p=.000). Conversely, gender and relational aggression did not significantly

correlate. However, prosocial behavior was found to have a significant relationship to gender,

with female participants' prosocial behavior rated more highly (r=-.286, p=.003). Additionally,

EVT scores and physical aggression were significantly correlated (r--.229, p=.020). Specifically,

individuals who scored low on the EVT tended to exhibit more physical aggression. A

significant correlation between expressive language skills and relational aggression was not

found. However, relationally aggressive children were found to exhibit less well-developed

prosocial behaviors (r--.529, p=.000).

Data reduction findings were used to identify variables to include in regression models.

Based upon findings from data reduction, stepwise multiple regression and stepwise categorical

regression models were tested. Specifically, the following models were tested as a result of data

reduction: (a) relational aggression as a DV and number of children per site, number of students









in classroom, and number of adults in classroom as IVs, (b) physical aggression as a DV and age,

gender, number of adults in classroom, and EVT scores as IVs, (c) prosocial score from PSBS-T

as a DV and gender, age and school site as IVs, (d) physical aggression as a DV and age, gender,

EVT score, ECSCI score, and number of adults in classroom as IVs. Relying on data from

models identified using stepwise regression is risky because this method of data analysis

capitalizes on chance; however, because stepwise regression was used in an exploratory manner

as a result of data reduction, it could be considered acceptable in this circumstance (Agresti &

Finlay, 1999).

Statistical Assumptions

Based upon visual inspection of probability plots, the assumptions of conditional

normality, linearity, and homoscedacity were met for each independent variable. Therefore the

use of multiple regression and analysis of variance was deemed appropriate.

Multiple Regression Analyses

Full and reduced models were analyzed to assess whether gender, EVT scores, and

ECSCI scores predict higher levels of relational and physical aggression.

Hypothesis 1: Perspective-Taking Ability and Relational Aggression

The first hypothesis stated that relationally aggressive young children would have better

developed perspective-taking skills, as measured by the ECSCI, than non-relationally aggressive

children. Support for this hypothesis was not found (P=.063, t=.632, p=.529). As mentioned

previously, the Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum was taught to the maj ority of

participants. The ECSCI was originally developed to assess the efficacy of this prevention

program. As such, it is likely that the findings are misleading. Future studies should further

explore the role perspective-taking plays in fostering relational aggression. See Table 3-5.










Hypothesis 2: Perspective-Taking Ability and Physical Aggression

The next hypothesis stated that physically aggressive children would have less well-

developed perspective-taking skills, as measured by the ECSCI. Support for this hypothesis also

was not found (P=-.056, t=-.567, p=.572). Again, the use of the Second Step Curriculum may

confound these results. See Table 3-6.

Hypothesis 3: Expressive Language Skills and Relational Aggression

Hypothesis 3 stated that relationally aggressive young children would have better

developed expressive-language skills, as measured by the EVT. Support for this hypothesis was

not found (P=. 108, t=1.096, p=.276) when other variables were not held constant. See Table 3-7.

Hypothesis 4: Expressive Language Skills and Physical Aggression

The next hypothesis stated physically aggressive children would have poorer expressive-

language abilities, as measured by the EVT. Support for this hypothesis was found (P=-.229,

t=2.359, F=5.565, p=.020). In other words, in this sample, when other variables are not held

constant, it appears that expressive language ability is linked to perpetration of physical

aggression. See Table 3-8.

Regression Analyses Based on Data Reduction

Stepwise regression was utilized to explore how correlates of relational aggression may

differ from correlates of physical aggression. Stepwise regression was deemed an acceptable

method of data analysis because of the exploratory nature of this study and because the variables

could be ranked based on research with older children and developmental theory. However,

because stepwise regression capitalizes on chance (Agresti & Finlay, 1999), results should be

interpreted with caution. Independent variables to be included in the utilization of stepwise

regression data analysis were determined based upon theory, previous research findings, and

correlations found during the data reduction stage of data analysis.










Physical aggression

Models designed to explain the variance of physical aggression included age, gender,

EVT scores, ECSCI scores, and number of adults in the classroom as independent variables and

physical aggression as the dependent variable. Categorical stepwise regression was used to

analyze these models because categorical regression allows for the independent variables to be

nominal, ordinal, and/or interval data. Three models were found to fit the data.

First model

The first model only included gender (P=.373, t=4.038, p=.00) as a significant predictor of

physical aggression (F=16.308, p=.00). Male gender accounted for a significant amount of the

variance in physical aggression.

Second model

When gender was held constant, the number of adults in the classroom (P=.259, t=2.901,

p=.00) accounted for a significant amount of the variance in physical aggression scores

(F=12.961, p=.00). When there were more adults in the classroom the rate of teacher-rated

physical aggression increased.

Third model

When gender and number of adults in the classroom were held constant, EVT scores (P=-

.222, t=-2.556, p=.01) accounted for a significant amount of the variance in physical aggression

scores (F=1 1.296, p=.00). In other words, when gender and the number of adults in the

classroom were held constant, having lower expressive language abilities accounted for a

significant amount of the variance in physical aggression. See table 3-9.

Relational aggression

Models designed to explain the variance of relational aggression included EVT scores,

ECSCI scores, number of adults in the classroom, number of children in the classroom, number










of students at the site, and PSB S-T prosocial scores as independent variables and relational

aggression as the dependent variable. Again, stepwise regression was considered an appropriate

methodology to employ because of the exploratory nature of the question being answered (what

correlates are linked to relational aggression in young children). Two models were found to fit

the data. The regression analyses which were run for relational aggression did not parallel the

regression analyses which were run for physical aggression because the analyses for each of the

separate types of aggression were decided based upon results obtained during data reduction.

First model

The first model found prosocial behavior (P=-.529, t=-6.271, p=.00) accounted for a

significant amount of the variance in relational aggression scores (F=39.326, p=.00). As

prosocial behavior increased, the amount of relational aggression decreased.

Second model

The next model held prosocial behavior constant (P=-.568, t=-6.786, p=.00) and found

EVT scores (P=.211i, t=2. 524, p=.01) accounted for a significant amount of the variance in

relational aggression scores (F=23.893, p=.00). This model is consistent with theory and

previous research which postulates that young children who are relationally aggressive often

have better developed expressive-language ability (Bonica et al., 2003). When both age and

prosocial behavior scores on the PSBS-T were held constant, EVT scores significantly accounted

for the variance in relational aggression scores on the PSBS-T (F=15.774, p=.00). See table 3-

10.

Prosocial behavior

Models designed to explain the variance of prosocial behavior scores included prosocial

behavior scores as a dependent variable and sex, age, and early childhood program as

independent variables. Categorical stepwise regression was used to analyze these models because










categorical regression allows for the independent variables to be nominal, ordinal, and/or interval

data. Two models were found to fit the data.

First model

The first model included only gender (P=-.286, t=3.003, p=.00) as a significant predictor of

prosocial behavior (F=9.017, p=.00). Female gender accounted for a significant amount of the

variance in prosocial behavior.

Second model

The next model found when gender was held constant, the participant' s early childhood

program accounted for a significant amount of the variance in prosocial behavior (F= 8.34,

p=.00). See table 3-11.

Analysis of Variance

One hypothesis of this study postulated that relationally aggressive young children have

well-developed perspective taking skills. When the ECSCI was used as a measure of perspective-

taking ability, findings were not significant. As mentioned previously, the maj ority of sites

included in this study utilize the Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum. The use of this

program may confound the results of this study with regard to the use of the ECSCI as a measure

of perspective-taking. Therefore, additional relational aggression perspective-taking questions

were asked of each participant. Specifically, participants were read the following scenarios and

asked the following questions: (a) "Chad was playing with the blocks at school today. Joe was

painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play with the blocks too. So, Chad told Joe he would not be

Joe's friend is Joe didn't play with the blocks too. How do you think Joe will feel?" and (b)

"Megan wanted a doll Rachel was playing with. Megan told Rachel that she would not be invited

to the birthday party if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll. How do you think Rachel

will feel?" Oneway-analysis of variance (ANOVAs) was utilized to assess the relational-










aggression perspective taking skills of relationally aggressive young children as compared to

children who are not relationally aggressive and to assess the relational aggression perspective

taking skills of physically aggressive children when compared to children who are not physically

aggressive.

Hypothesis 1: Perspective-Taking Ability and Relational Aggression

Two one-way ANOVAs were used to assess the relational aggression perspective-taking

abilities of relationally aggressive children, as compared to children who are not relationally

aggressive. Relational aggression as measured by the PSBS-T was the dependent, continuous

variable. Children were asked two questions related to how victims of relational aggression

would feel as a result of their victimization. Child responses included the following: mad, sad,

happy, not happy, mad and sad, happy and sad, and I don 't know. Children were read the

following scenarios and asked the following questions: (a) "Chad was playing with the blocks at

school today. Joe was painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play with the blocks too. So, Chad told

Joe he would not be Joe's friend is Joe didn't play with the blocks too. How do you think Joe

will feel?" and (b) "Megan wanted a doll Rachel was playing with. Megan told Rachel that she

would not be invited to the birthday party if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll. How do

you think Rachel will feel?"

Scenario A: How do you think Joe will feel

Relational aggression perspective taking ability with regard to the first scenario (i.e.,

"Chad was playing with the blocks at school today. Joe was painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to

play with the blocks too. So, Chad told Joe he would not be Joe's friend is Joe didn't play with

the blocks too. How do you think Joe will feel?") was examined using an oneway ANOVA.

Results approached but did not reach significance (F=1.872, p=.09), highlighting the need for

future studies with larger samples to further examine the relational aggression perspective taking









abilities of relational aggressors. Post hoc analyses were unable to be performed because 2 or

fewer participants were present in two of the groups.

Relational aggression scores on the PSBS-T were then utilized to identify participants

who are excessively relationally aggressive. A score of 18 on the relational aggression section of

the PSB S-T was used as a cut-off for inclusion in the excessively relationally aggressive group.

Eighteen was used as a cutoff score because there were 6 relational aggression questions. The

PSBS-T is a Likert-Scale where a rating of 3 indicates that the behavior occurs sometimes, a

rating of 4 indicates the behavior occurs often, and a rating of 5 indicates the behavior always or

almost always occurs. As such, a total score of 18 would indicate that the participant frequently

engaged in relational aggression.

Of the 14 participants who were identified as excessively relationally aggressive 86%

said the victim in scenario A would feel "sad," 7% said the victim would feel "not happy," and

7% said the victim would feel "mad and sad." Of the 89 participants who were not identified as

relationally aggressive 75% said the victim in scenario A would feel "sad."

Scenario B: How do you think Rachel will feel

Perspective-taking ability with regard to the second scenario (i.e. "Megan wanted a doll

Rachel was playing with. Megan told Rachel that she would not be invited to the birthday party

if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll. How do you think Rachel will feel?") was

analyzed using an oneway ANOVA. Results were significant (F=2.225, p=.04), suggesting that

relational aggressors understand how their victimization will make others feel. Post hoc analyses

were unable to be performed because 2 or fewer participants were present in two of the groups.

Of the 14 participants who were identified as excessively relationally aggressive 93%

said the victim in scenario B would feel "sad" and 7% said the victim would feel "not happy,"

indicating that perpetrators of relational aggression are able to understand how relationally










aggressive acts will make others feel. Of the 89 participants who were not identified as

relationally aggressive, 78% said the victim in scenario B would feel "sad," indicating that some

non-relationally aggressive individuals also are able understand how relationally aggressive acts

will make others feel.

Hypothesis 5: Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Ability and ECSCI

One way ANOVAs were then utilized to examine if individuals who scored higher on the

ECSCI would be better able to take the perspective of relational victims than those who scored

lower. Individuals who scored higher on the ECSCI performed better on each relational

aggression perspective-taking question (F=2.33, p=.04 for scenario 1, and F=3.165, p=.01 for

scenario 2). Follow-up univariate tests regarding the 3 components of the ECSCI (i.e.,

determining the emotional state of another, taking the perspective of another, and problem

solving) indicated that, with regard to scenario A (i.e. "Chad was playing with the blocks at

school today. Joe was painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play with the blocks too. So, Chad told

Joe he would not be Joe's friend is Joe didn't play with the blocks too. How do you think Joe

will feel?"), individuals who appropriately answered the relational aggression perspective taking

question about Joe (i.e., answered "sad") also scored higher on portion of the ECSCI concerned

with taking the perspective of another (F=2.445, p=.03). Furthermore, follow-up univariate tests

regarding the 3 components of the ECSCI indicated that, with regard to scenario B (i.e. "Megan

wanted a doll Rachel was playing with. Megan told Rachel that she would not be invited to the

birthday party if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll. How do you think Rachel will

feel?"), individuals who appropriately answered the relational aggression perspective taking

question about Rachel also scored higher on the portion of the ECSCI concerned with

determining the emotional state of another (F=3.302, p=.01). These results again highlight the









need to further examine what perspective taking abilities differ in relationally aggressive children

when compared to their non-aggressive peers. See Tables 3-12 and 3-13.

Summary

This study examined how correlates of relational aggression in young children differ

from correlates of physical aggression in young children. The following hypotheses were tested:

(a) relational and physical aggression in young children is related, (b) females engage in more

relational aggression, (c) males engage in more physical aggression, (d) better-developed

expressive language abilities will account for a significant amount of the variance in relational

aggression scores, (e) less well-developed expressive language abilities will account for a

significant amount of the variance in physical aggression scores, (f) children who are more

relationally aggressive will be more skilled at perspective-taking than children who are more

physically aggressive.

Pearson product-moment correlations indicated that physical and relation aggression is

significantly related. Females were not found to be more relationally aggressive than males;

however, males were found to be more physically aggressive than females.

When prosocial behavior scores is held constant, better developed expressive language

abilities account for a significant amount of the variance in relational aggression scores.

Conversely, less-well developed expressive language abilities accounts for a significant amount

of the variance in physical aggression scores.

Perspective taking skills as measured by the ECSCI were not found to account for a

significant amount of the variance in relational or physical aggression scores. The ECSCI was

developed to assess the efficacy of the Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum. Because

the maj ority of sites included in this study were utilizing the Second Step Violence Prevention

Curriculum, findings based upon ECSCI scores may be misleading. However, when perspective









taking skills related to relational aggression scenarios were assessed relational aggressors did

appear to have well-developed relational aggression perspective-taking skills.










Table 3-1 Descriptive statistics of child characteristics
Variable Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Dev.
EVT raw score 37 75 54.44 10.32
ECSCI total raw score 2 45 20.63 7.83
PSBS-T Relational Aggression 6 25 11.6 5.06
PSBS-T Physical Aggression 5 23 8.35 3.71
PSBS-T Prosocial Skills 8 20 15.59 3.05



Table 3-2 ANOVAs for kindergarten versus non-kindergarten classes


Variable
ECSCI Total
EVT
PSBS-T Relational Aggression
PSBS-T Physical Aggression
PSBS-T Prosocial Skills


.520
15.620
1.110
2.806
4.471


.473
.000
.295
.097
.037


Table 3-3 Descriptive statistics of class and site characteristics
Variable Min Max
Number of students per class 12 46
Number of adults per class 2 7
Number of site discipline referrals per year 0 130
Number of children at site 88 131
Number of children per site receiving subsidized childcare 0 16


Mean
24.24
3.02
22.58
108.15
3.25


Std. Dev.
12.85
2.02
42.23
16.40
4.93


Table 3-4 Pearson product-moment correlations and point-biserial correlations
EVT ECSCI Relational Physical Prosocial Age Gender
Aggression Aggression Skills
EVT 1.000 .424** .108 -.229* .181 .470** -.058
ECSCI 1.000 .063 -.056 .030 .089 -.089
Relational 1.000 .488** -.529** -.037 -.001


Aggression
Physical
Aggression
Prosocial
Skills


1.000


-.531** -.259** .373**


1.000


.


228* -.286**

000 -.021
1.000


Age 1.
Gender
*indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significant at the .01 level










Table 3-5 Summary of regression analysis for perspective taking and relational aggression
Variable B SE B B t P
ECSCI score .041 .064 .063 .632 .529
*indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significant at the .01 level


Table 3-6 Summary of regression analysis for perspective-taking and physical aggression
Variable B SE B B t P
ECSCI score -.027 .047 -.056 -.567 .572
*indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significant at the .01 level


Table 3-7 Summary of regression analysis for expressive language and relational aggression
Variable B SE B B t P
EVT score .053 .049 .108 1.096 .276
*indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significant at the .01 level


Table 3-8 Summary of regression analysis for expressive language and physical aggression
Variable B SE B B t P
EVT score -.082 .035 -.229 -2.359 .02*
*indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significant at the .01 level


Table 3-9 Summary of regression analysis for correlates of physical aggression


Variable B SE B B t
Sex 2.617 .641 .355 4.
Number of adults in classroom .496 .159 .271 3.
EVT -.080 .031 -.222 -2
*indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significant at the .01 level


P
.000
.002
.010


081**
116**
.556**


Table 3-10 Summary of regression analysis for correlates of relational aggression
Variable B SE B B t
Prosocial behavior -.941 .139 -.568 -6.786**
EVT .104 .041 .211 2.524**
*indicates significant at the .05 level,** indicates significant at the .01 level


P
.000
.010










Table 3-11 Summary of regression analysis for correlates of prosocial behavior
Variable B SE B B t P
Sex -1.680 .563 -.276 -2.984** .004
Early childhood program .479 .179 .247 2.668** .009
*indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significant at the .01 level


Table 3-12 Summary of oneway ANOVA and univariate tests scenario A
Variable df F P
ECSCI 6 2.33* .038
Emotional Identification 6 2.062 .065
Perspective Taking 6 2.445* .030
Problem Solving 6 1.543 .173
*indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significant at the .01 level


Table 3-13 Summary of oneway ANOVA and univariate tests scenario B
Variable df F P
ECSCI 6 3.165** .007
Emotional Identification 6 3.302** .005
Perspective Taking 6 1.341 .247
Problem Solving 6 1.438 .208
*indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significant at the .01 level









CHAPTER 4
DISCUSSION

This study examined physical and relational aggression in young children. Possible

correlates of physical and relational aggression were explored; and, how correlates of relational

aggression in early childhood differ from correlates of physical aggression in early childhood

was investigated. The following research questions guided the current study:

1) Is relational and physical aggression related in young children?

2) What is the relationship between relational aggression and the following predictor
variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive language abilities?

3) What is the relationship between physical aggression and the following predictor
variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive language abilities?

Research Question 1

The first guiding research question asked whether physical and relational aggression are

related in young children. Previous studies have demonstrated some correlates of physical and

relational aggression differ (Bonica et al., 2003; Estrem, 2005), yet few studies speak directly

about the correlation of physical and relational aggression in young children. Studies examining

aggression in older children and adolescents have found physical aggressors are more commonly

males and relational aggressors are more commonly female; however, the direct relationship of

physical aggression to relational aggression in older children is rarely discussed (McNeilly-

Choque et al., 1996; Roecker Phelps, 2001).

McEvoy and colleagues found that preschool males were more likely than preschool

females to be either relationally aggressive or physically aggressive; however, the direct

relationship of relational aggression to physical aggression was not examined. Crick et al. (2006)

found that preschool females were more likely to be relationally aggressive than preschool

males, and that preschool males were more likely to be physically aggressive than preschool









females. Additionally, Crick et al. (2006) demonstrated that aggressive preschoolers can be

categorized into groups of only relationally aggressive preschoolers, only physically aggressive

preschoolers, and both relationally and physically aggressive preschoolers.

In the current study relational aggression and physical aggression were associated with

one another. Specifically, individuals who were relationally aggressive were likely to also be

physically aggressive, and individuals who were physically aggressive were likely to also be

relationally aggressive. As was demonstrated by Crick et al. (2006), individuals who were only

relationally aggressive (i.e., relationally aggressive children who were not physically aggressive)

and individuals who were only physically aggressive (i.e., physically aggressive children who

were not relationally aggressive) also were found.

Possible explanations for why the current study found that as relational aggression

increases so does physical aggression include the following: (1) the relationship between

physical and relational aggression could be due to shared variance, and (2) highly relationally

aggressive children may utilize physical aggression at times, but not as frequently as relational

aggression and highly physically aggressive children may utilize relational aggression at times,

but not as frequently as physical aggression.

The first possibility suggests that the relationship between physical and relational

aggression could be due to shared variance. Specifically, relational aggression and physical

aggression were assessed using the same instrument, the PSBS-T. Each participant had his/her

classroom teacher complete the PSBS-T, resulting in an indirect measure of both physical and

relational aggression. Results may be confounded by the report from a single teacher per

participant due to this indirect measurement. In other words, relationally aggressive children may

not, in fact, be more inclined to utilize physical aggression. Instead, teachers may perceive









individuals who engage in either physical aggression or relational aggression more negatively. In

turn, these teachers may rate these children higher on each form of aggression. In other words, if

a teacher commonly observes a child engaging in relational aggression, this teacher may rate

relational aggression as very high. The teacher may also assume that because the child uses

relational aggression frequently, s/he may also utilize physical aggression at times.

Another explanation for the correlation of relational and physical aggression could be that

highly relationally aggressive children may utilize physical aggression at times, but not as

frequently as relational aggression. Similarly, a highly physically aggressive child might use

relational aggression at times, but not as frequently as physical aggression. This possibility

should be explored further. For example, future studies could utilize point biserial correlations to

assess the relationships among an only relationally aggressive group, an only physically

aggressive group, and a both relationally and physically aggressive group. Analysis of variance

(ANOVA) also could be used to examine group differences between an only relationally

aggressive group, an only physically aggressive group, and a both relationally and physically

aggressive group. In the current sample, there were only 3 children who were considered only

highly physically aggressive, only 2 children who were considered both highly relationally

aggressive and highly physically aggressive, and only 12 children who were considered only

highly relationally aggressive. These groups were not large enough, and thus did not yield

enough statistical power to find significant differences. Therefore, sufficient data were not

available to assess relationships between group differences among a purely highly relationally

aggressive group, a purely highly physically aggressive group, and a mixed highly-relationally

and highly- physically aggressive group.









Research Question 2

The second research question examined the relationships between relational aggression and

gender, expressive-language ability, and perspective taking skills. Initial analyses did not find

relational aggression to be related to gender, expressive-language ability, or perspective taking

skills; however, further analyses did provide some support for the hypothesis stating expressive-

language abilities may be higher in relationally aggressive children and for the hypothesis stating

that perspective taking abilities may be better developed in relationally aggressive children.

Gender

Most research examining relational aggression in young children has found relational

aggression is most common among females (Bonica et al., 2003; Crick et al., 1997; Crick et al.,

2001; Crick et al., 2006; McNeilly-Choque et al., 1996). However, McEvoy and colleagues

(2003) found that young males engage in relational aggression more often than females.

Specifically, McEvoy et al. found relational aggression was the most common form of

aggression among young females; however, young males were found to engage in more acts of

relational aggression than young females.

No gender differences with regard to relational aggression were found in the current study.

In other words, among this sample, males and females engaged in the same amount of relational

aggression as reported by teachers on the Preschool Social Behavior Scale.

Various explanations for the finding of no gender differences with regard to relational

aggression exist. As mentioned previously, the maj ority of participants attended centers that

utilized the Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum. The implementation of this program

may be confounding the results. Specifically, this program could be teaching young preschoolers

to understand the emotional perspective of others so well that these children are all now more

skilled at employing relational aggression.









A related possibility is that gender is not as important a predictor of relational aggression

as it is of physical aggression. Skills such as expressive language ability and perspective taking

ability may actually account for a significantly larger amount of the variance in relational

aggression than gender does.

Expressive Language Ability

Hypothesis 3 stated that relationally aggressive young children would have better

developed expressive-language skills, as measured by the EVT. Support for this hypothesis was

not found when other variables were not held constant; however, support for this hypothesis was

found when prosocial skills were held constant. In other words, expressive-language ability does

predict relational aggression when prosocial skills are held constant.

The Resource Control Theory could be utilized to help explain this unexpected finding.

The Resource Control Theory hypothesizes that various interactions require competition for

resources (competition for attention of peers, a certain place in line, a desired obj ect, etc). The

presence of such competition prompts the use of "strategic control efforts." These control efforts

can be prosocial, coercive, or a mixture thereof. Hawley (2003) found that relationally aggressive

children are more commonly "bistrategic controllers" or children who use a mixture of prosocial

and coercive control methods. Because these children tend to use both coercive and prosocial

strategies at times, it is possible that teachers generally rate them as less prosocial. The link

between prosocial abilities and expressive language abilities was not directly examined by this

study. However, when prosocial skills are controlled, and all children, despite their use of control

strategies, are compared, expressive language abilities of relational aggressors are stronger. In

other words, when the teacher perspective of social ability is taken out of the equation it does

appear that relational aggressors have better expressive language skills.









The use of the Resource Control Theory helps explain this perplexing finding; however,

this theory in and of itself is not sufficient. Future research should further examine this

phenomenon. Until this finding is further studied, confident conclusions are unable to be formed.

Perspective Taking Skills

The current study hypothesized that relationally aggressive preschoolers would have

better developed perspective-taking skills when compared to non-relationally aggressive

preschoolers and to physically aggressive preschoolers. Support for this finding initially was not

provided, as the measure initially utilized to assess perspective taking skills (i.e., the ECSCI) is a

measure derived from the Second Step Curriculum. As the maj ority of participants in this study

were attending programs where the Second Step Curriculum was implemented, this finding is

likely confounded.

In order to further examine the relationship between perspective-taking skills and relational

aggression, participants were told 2 stories that demonstrated blatant acts of relational

aggression. When participants were asked how the relational victims in the scenarios felt, an

overwhelming maj ority of relational aggressors were able to correctly take the perspective of the

victim. However, many non-aggressive individuals also were able to correctly identify the

perspective of the victim, pointing out the need to further investigate this construct. Additionally,

in one of the scenarios the relationally aggressive preschoolers were better able to take the

perspective of the relational victims than their non-relationally aggressive peers. In the other

scenario, the Eindings were approaching significance, again highlighting the need to further

investigate this construct.

The Resource Control Theory, in combination with the Social Information Processing

Model (SIMP), could be used to explain the relationship between relational aggression and









perspective taking skills. Hawley (2003) notes relational aggressors use both coercive and

prosocial strategies to get what they want. This suggests that these aggressors are able to

understand various ways to obtain desired outcomes. In order to be able to understand various

methods of obtaining preferred results, and in order to be able to choose the most effective way

of obtaining desired outcomes, one must be able to take the perspective of others and apply this

knowledge when making social decisions. In other words, it is likely these individuals

appropriately encode social cues (i.e., step 1 of the SIMP) and accurately understand the social

cues (i.e., step 2 of the SIMP). During the next step of the SIMP where goals are clarified (i.e.,

step 3 of the SIPM), these relationally aggressive individuals decide upon what they want, and

then think of both coercive (via the use of relational aggressive) and prosocial strategies. If these

aggressors think they are able to obtain the desired outcome via the use of prosocial strategies,

they may do so. However, if these relationally aggressive individuals think that using prosocial

strategies may not yield the desired result, they may decide to utilize relational aggression in

order to obtain the preferred outcome. Importantly, however, many preschoolers' skills may not

be sufficiently well developed to make fine decision-making distinctions.

Relationally aggressive young children may have more advanced perspective-taking

skills than their non-relationally aggressive peers because of the development of their thinking

abilities. The decision making abilities of most preschool children may not be developed well-

enough to make very fine distinctions during the information processing of their social worlds.

However, the decision making abilities of relational aggressors, in combination with, or instead

of, the perspective-taking abilities of relational aggressors may actually be what is better

developed in these preschool children.









Research Question 3

The third research question examined the relationships between physical aggression and

gender, expressive-language ability, and perspective taking skills.

Gender

Male gender has repeatedly been found to be related to physical aggression in young

children (Coie & Dodge, 1997; Juvonen & Graham, 2001; Lavigne et al., 2001; Mathesen &

Sanson, 2000; McEvoy et al., 2003; Monks et al., 2002 Pierce et. al, 1999). The current study

also found physical aggressors were more likely to be male.

An overwhelming amount of literature supports the idea that physical aggressors are

more commonly males, especially in early childhood. A likely explanation for this repeated

finding is that young physical aggressors are, in fact, more likely to be male than female.

Expressive Language Ability

Young physical aggressors often have been found to exhibit poor expressive and

receptive language skills (Estreem, 2005; Park et al., 2005). Consistent with past research,

participants in the current study who were physically aggressive tended to have less well-

developed expressive language abilities.

This finding simply provides more evidence to support the idea that physical aggressors

commonly have less-well developed language skills.

Perspective Taking Skills

Many researchers use the Social Information Processing Model (SIPM) to explain

physically aggressive behavior (Coie & Cillessen, 1993; Dodge, Lansford, Salzer Burks, Bates,

Pettit, Fontaine, & Price, 2003; Salzer Burks, Laird, & Dodge, 1999; Webster-Stratton &

Lindsay, 1999). With regard to the SIPM, physically aggressive individuals are commonly found

to process information in an excessively negative manner (have hostile attribution biases). The










hypothesis states that physically aggressive children interpret social cues delivered by others

(peers) as having hostile or malice intent, despite whether hostile or malice intent was present.

This hypothesis suggests physical aggressors often lack perspective taking skills (Coie &

Cillessen, 1993; Dodge, et al., 2003; Salzer Burks et al., 1999; Webster-Stratton & Lindsay,

1999). Support for the idea that physical aggressors lack perspective taking skills was not found

in the current study.

This divergent finding was likely due to the implementation of the Second Step

Curriculum in the maj ority of participating sites. The measure used to assess general perspective-

taking skills (i.e., the ECSCI) is a measure derived from the Second Step Curriculum. Therefore

as stated before, the use of this curriculum likely confounded the results of this study. As such,

future research should further investigate the role perspective taking plays in physically

aggressive young children.

Other Findings

Physical Aggression

Variables to be included in exploratory step-wise regression analyses were determined

through the use of data reduction. In conducting these exploratory analyses, the number of adults

in classrooms was found to significantly predict the amount of physical aggression that occurred.

The classrooms that had more adults in them were very large, open, unstructured classrooms

with many children present in the room at any given time. The classroom atmosphere, rather than

the number of adults present, may actually be the predictor of physical aggression under these

circumstances. Unfortunately data to explore this possibility were not gathered.

Prosocial Skills

Correlates of prosocial skills were examined because less well developed prosocial skills

was related to both physical aggression and relational aggression and because when prosocial









skills were held constant expressive language ability was a significant predictor of relational

aggression. Sex, age, and early childhood program attended significantly predicted prosocial

skills. As mentioned previously, males were more likely to engage in physical aggression.

Therefore, it is not surprising that females tended to display more prosocial behaviors.

Additionally, social skills improve as children get older. As such, it is not surprising that older

children engaged in more prosocial behaviors than younger children. Finally, the early childhood

programs attended by participants predicted prosocial behaviors. A couple of explanations could

explain this finding. First, teachers at some sites may be more tolerant of problem behaviors, and

thus rate less prosocial behaviors more leniently. Next, some sites may have classes spend more

time engaging in activities to increase social skills. Finally, the demographics of students at each

site might impact the use of prosocial skills.

Theoretical Implications

Results from this study support the notion that the SIPM may be utilized in a qualitatively

different manner by relational aggressors than by physical aggressors (Crick et al., 2002).

Crick et al. (2002) found relational aggressors hold "hostile attributions" with regard to

situations based upon relationships. Crain et al. (2006) were unable to replicate these findings in

two independent studies. The current study did not examine hostile attribution biases; however it

did study the role of perspective taking among relational aggressors.

Hawley (2003) found relational aggressors were skilled at choosing the more effective

"control strategies," whether they be prosocial control strategies or coercive control strategies.

Findings from the current study suggest the role of perspective taking should be further

investigated with regard to relational aggressors.

Based upon the Social Information Processing Model, the Resource Control Theory, and

preliminary findings of this study, it appears an altered form of the Social Information









Processing Model, which is informed by the Resource Control Theory, may be better able to

account for relational aggression in young children. Specifically, relational aggressors may be

able to understand various ways to obtain desired outcomes via their skilled perspective taking

abilities. Relational aggressors might accurately encode the social cues given by others (i.e., step

1 of the SIPM). They also may appropriately understand those cues (i.e., step 2 of the SIPM).

Although findings from Crick et al. (2002) suggest this is where the breakdown in social

information processing occurs in relationally aggressive individuals, the breakdown may occur

during the next three steps (i.e., step 3, step 4, and step 5 of the SIPM,) where goals are clarified,

access to solutions are evaluated, and decisions are made.

According to the Resource Control Theory, during the third step of the SIPM these

relationally aggressive individuals decide upon what they want, and then think of both coercive

(via the use of relational aggressive) and prosocial strategies to obtain the desired outcome (step

4). If these aggressors think they are able to obtain the desired outcome via the use of prosocial

strategies, they may decide to do so (step 5). However, if these relationally aggressive

individuals think that using prosocial strategies may not yield the desired result, they may decide

upon implementing relational aggression in order to obtain the preferred outcome (step 5).

Appendix G graphically illustrates how the Social Information Processing Model could be

combined with the Resource Control Theory to explain relational aggression among young

children.

Limitations

Design and Internal Validity

Ostrov, Crick, and Stauffancher (2006) point out the "importance of a multi-contextual

approach (school and family influences) in understanding the development of aggression and in

providing a guide for future interventions." The current study did not assess contextual factors










regarding family and neighborhoods. Specifically, information concerning parenting styles,

number of siblings, birth order, amount of sibling-on-sibling relational aggression, neighborhood

environments, and amount of neighborhood relational aggression observed by parents could have

helped to explain more of the variance in relational aggression. Future studies should ask for

parents' perspectives about each of these factors. Information related to the contextual factors

left out of this study could prove useful in informing relational aggression prevention and

intervention efforts.

As mentioned previously, the use of the Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum

likely confounded some of the current studies results, thus presenting a threat to the study's

internal validity.

External Validity and Generalizability

Data for the current study were collected in a southeastern college town. Additionally,

data were only obtained from model early childhood centers, each of which has or is capable of

having accreditation from various early childhood accrediting boards. Given that data were

collected at model centers in a college town, the parents may have a higher level of education

than parents in the general population. As such, care should be taken when generalizing results to

other populations.

Measurement

As mentioned previously, the ECSCI was developed to assess perspective taking gains

made as a result of inclusion in a Second Step Violence Prevention program. The maj ority of

participants in this study attended centers where the Second Step Violence Prevention

Curriculum was implemented. Therefore, the ECSCI likely provided a measure of skills related

to those learned from Second Step, and not overall perspective taking skills.









Finally, the Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Questionnaire only included two

scenarios. This instrument was able to provide preliminary results regarding the relational

aggression perspective taking abilities of relational aggressors; however, the instrument was not

sensitive enough to provide detailed results concerning differences among relational aggressors,

physical aggressors, and non-aggressors.

Future Directions

Perspective Taking

The combined use of the Social Information Processing Model and Resource Control

Theory to explain relational aggression deserves further attention. Future research could examine

the relationship of control strategies and perspective taking among relationally aggressive,

physically aggressive, and non-relationally aggressive children. Future studies could explore the

following questions: Are control strategies mediated by perspective taking abilities? Do

individuals who always or almost always use coercive strategies tend to have less-well

developed perspective taking abilities? Do individuals who commonly use both coercive and

prosocial control strategies have better-developed perspective taking abilities? How do the

perspective taking abilities of individuals who almost always utilize prosocial control strategies

differ from those who commonly use coercive and prosocial strategies? Could this difference be

utilized in some way to inform relational aggression prevention and intervention efforts?

Additionally, the role of relational hostile attribution biases deserves further attention.

Research aimed at answering the question of how these hostile attribution biases may fit into the

Relational Aggression Social Information Processing Model based upon Resource Control, if

these hostile attribution biases exist, should be conducted.

Findings of the current study demonstrated that relationally aggressive individuals

understood how victims of relational aggression would feel in relationally aggressive scenarios.









However, non-aggressive children also were able to correctly identify how victims of relational

aggression would feel in relationally aggressive scenarios. Future research should try to

disentangle what is different, if anything, about the relational aggression specific perspective-

taking abilities utilized by relational aggressors when compared to non-relational aggressors.

An expanded version of the Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Questionnaire could

be used to obtain further knowledge of how specific perspective taking abilities of relational

aggressors differ from those of non-aggressors. The questionnaire used in the current study only

included two scenarios. This instrument may have been more sensitive if more scenarios were

included.

Efforts to create a valid and reliable measure of young children' s general perspective

taking abilities should be made. The main measure (i.e., the ECSCI) used to assess perspective

taking abilities in the current study may have provided misleading results. As mentioned

previously, the measure was created based upon the Second Step Violence Prevention

Curriculum. The maj ority of participants in this study attended programs that implemented the

Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum. Therefore, the ECSCI may have actually been

measuring a result of exposure to the Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum as opposed to

overall, general perspective-taking abilities. Future studies should consider the use of a different

measure to assess overall perspective taking skills.

Gender

The current study found gender was not a significant predictor of relational aggression in

young children. McEvoy et al. (2003) also found female gender and relational aggression were

uncorrelated in preschool sample. Conversely, many researchers have found young females are

more relationally aggressive than young males (Bonica et al., 2003; Crick et al., 1997; Crick et

al., 2001; Crick et al., 2006; McNeilly-Choque et al., 1996). These discrepant findings highlight









the need to continue examining the role gender plays in the prediction of relational aggression

among young children.

Expressive Language

One hypothesis of the current study postulated that higher expressive language abilities

would be predictive of relational aggression in young children. Estrem (2005) and Bonica and

colleagues (2003) found better-developed expressive language abilities to be predictive of

relational aggression in young children; however, Park et al. (2005) found less well-developed

language abilities account for a significant amount of the variance in relational aggression. The

current study found that expressive-language abilities were only predictive of relational

aggression when prosocial skills were held constant. In other words, when the teacher

perspective of social ability is taken out of the equation it does appear that relational aggressors

have better expressive language skills. The use of the Resource Control Theory could help to

explain this perplexing finding. This theory alone, however, is unable to adequately explain this

finding. Future research should further examine this puzzling discovery. Until this finding is

further studied, confident conclusions regarding the expressive language abilities of relational

aggressors are unable to be stated.

Applied Implications

Physical aggression

One unexpected Einding of this study was the relationship between adults in a classroom

and physical aggression. Physical aggression increased as the number of adults in the classroom

increased. As mentioned previously, the classes with more adults also contained more children in

very large rooms with masses of open space. In order to decrease physical aggression, early

childhood classrooms could be smaller rooms, with fewer students, and thus fewer adults.









Additionally, the classroom could be designed so large open spaces were not present, decreasing

the opportunity for running and rough play within the classroom.

Relational aggression

Relational aggressors may have better perspective taking skills, but this is not something

intervention and prevention programs should try to alter. Relational aggression appears to be

linked to many positive attributes. Some may ponder the possibility that relational aggression is

normative. However, if relational aggression were normative, would it be related to so many

negative psycho-social outcomes among victims as well as perpetrators? The more satisfying

answer may be that a negative predictor of relational aggression exists, research has just not

identified it yet. Comparing the perspective taking abilities and control strategies of relational

aggressors may provide answers regarding what we can change to decrease relational aggression.

Moreover, researchers may want to consider the unappealing possibility that current

physical aggression prevention programs may be inadvertently increasing relational aggression.

As mentioned previously, it appears that relational aggression is linked to skills advantageous for

children to have (well developed expressive language ability, well developed perspective taking

skills). Research efforts should explore how to continue to promote these skills while demoting

the use of relational and physical aggression.









APPENDIX A
SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING MODEL

(Crick & Dodge, 1994)


Response
Accss


Response
Decisin


Data Base

Acquired Rules

3. Soc i al Kn owl edge
Goal -Social Scripts
Clarifiation
Normative Beliefs



1 Coping Strategies


6.
Behavioral
Enactment


Interpreation
Of
Cues .


Encoding of
Cues











APENDIX B
REVIEW OF RELATIONAL AGGRESSION ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES

Table B-1. Review of relational aggression assessment techniques


Instrument/ Aspects
Technique Assessed


Psychometric Properties


Child
Friendliness

Very, child
should be
unaware that
he/she is
being
observed


Examiner
Friendliness

No- It is
difficult to
"hear" some
instances of
relational
aggression.
It is
difficult/imp
possible to
ensure
observer is
not causing
children to
behave in
manners out
of the norm.
It is very
time
consunung.

Yes;
however
coding
video-tapes
is likely to
be a tedious
task


Target Population


Preschooler Children
(defined as ages 3-5
yrs)

Could be used with
Other individuals as
well


Direct
Observation
in Natural
Setting Based
on PSBP's
definition of
relational
aggression

(Crick, Casas,
Mosher,
1997)


Relational Evidence of Content
aggression Validity;

Concurrent Criterion-
Related Validity is
present when compared
with PSBS-P and when
compared with PSBS-T
(McEvoy et al., 2003)


Interrater-reliability
would need to be obtained
when this method is used


Semi-
structured,
Analogue
Observations

(Crick et al.,
2004)


Relational Evidence of Content
Aggression validity is present;
Low levels of participant
reactivity increases its
external validity (Crick et
al., 2004)
High interobserver has
been reported (Crick et
al., 2004)
Interrater-reliability
would need to be obtained
each time this method is
used
High agreement with
teacher reports
(PSBS-T) has been
reported (Crick et al.,
2004)

Relational Some evidence of Content
aggression Validity (however this is
limited because the
interview is semi-
structured)
Other Data are
unavailable


Somewhat,
however
peer
interactions
are
manipulated
in hopes of
eliciting
relational
aggression


Preschool Children
(defined as ages 3-5
yrs)

Could be used with
other individuals


Parent
interview :
relational
aggression
(Crick & et
al.)


Not
applicable,
but it is up
to the
interviewer
to ensure it
is parent
friendly


Yes, as long
as the
interviewer
is
comfortable
with his/her
role as
interviewer


Could be utilized with
individuals of any age











Table B-1. Continued


Instrument/
Technique
Preschool
Behavior
Scale- Peer
Form
(PSBS-P)

(Crick, Casas,
Mosher,
1997)


Aspects
Assessed
1.Relational
Aggression;
2.Overt,
Physical
Aggression;
3.Peer
Acceptance;
4.Peer
Rejection;
5.Prosocial
Behavior


Psychometric Properties

Evidence of Content
Validity is present;

Concurrent Criterion-
Related Validity is
present when compared
with direct observations
(McEvoy et al., 2003);

Internal consistency
reported by McEvoy et
al., 2003 for relational
aggression (ra) = between
.64 and .76;
for overt aggression (oa)=
between .61 and .83;
for prosocial behavior
(pb)= .62 and .80


Child
Friendliness
Yes, picture
nominations
used to ease
in
assessment.

May be less
child-
friendly for
young
children
with limited
or less
developed
language
skills.


Examiner Target Population


Friendliness
Yes,
however, it
may be
time-
consuming
and tedious
to
administer
and score.


Preschool Children
(defined as ages 3-5yrs)


Chronbach's a for ra
.71; oa=.77; pb=.68
(Crick et al., 1997)


Preschool
Behavior
Scale-
Teacher
(PSBS-T)

(Crick, Casas,
Mosher,
1997)


1.Relational
Aggression;
2.Overt,
Physical
Aggression;
3 .Prosocial
Behavior;
4.Child's
Acceptance
with Same-
Sex Peers;
5.Child's
Acceptance
with
Opposite-
Sex Peers


Evidence of Content
Validity is present
Concurrent Criterion-
Related Validity is
present when compared
with direct observations
(McEvoy et al., 2003);
Internal consistency
reported by McEvoy et
al., 2003 for relational
aggression (ra) = between
.81 and .89;
for overt aggression (oa)=
between .72 and .83;
for prosocial behavior
(pb) =
between .62 and .83;
for depressed affect (da) =
between .82 and .90
Chronbach's a
ra= .96; oa= .94; pb= .88;
da= .87 (Crick et al.,
1997)


N/A for
children.

For teachers
it is easy to
understand
and short;
however
teachers
may be
asked to fill
out a rating
for several
(if not all)
students in
the class, so
it could
become
more
tedious.


Very
Examiner
Friendly. It
is easy to
administer
and score


Preschool Children
(defined as ages 3 5
yrs)











Table B-1. Continued


Instrument/
Technique
Children' s
Social
Behavior
Scale
(CSBS)

(Crick, 1996)


Aspects
Assessed
1.Relational
Aggression
2.Overt,
Plwsical
Aggression
3 .Prosocial
behavior


Psychometric Properties

Evidence of Content
Validity is present;
Internal consistency= for
relational aggression is
between.63 and .83:
for plwsical aggression is
between .76 and .84:
for prosocial behavior is
between .73 and .89
(Crick, 1996)


Child
Friendliness
N/A for
children.
For teachers
it is easy to
understand
and short;
however
tedious if
asked to
complete for
several
students.


Yes, it is
written in
child-
friendly
terms and it
is relatively
short






Yes.
however
children
must be
encouraged
not to
discuss their
rankings.


Examiner
Friendliness
Very
examiner
friendly. It is
easy to
administer
and score


Target Population

3r through 6t grade


Children' s
Peer Relation
Scale
(CPRS)

(Crick 1991
in Crick &
Grotpeter,
1995



Peer
Nomination
of Relational
Aggression
and other
Aspects of
Social
Adjustment
(Crick, 1995:
Crick &
Grotpeter,
1995)


1. Overt,
Plwsical
Aggression
2.Relational
Aggression
3. Prosocial
Behavior
4.Loneliness





1.Overt,
Plwsical
Aggression
2.Relational
Aggression
3 .Prosocial
Behavior
4.Loneliness


Evidence of Content
Validity is present:
Internal consistency=
between .7 and .82
(depending on construct)
Test-retest reliability =
between .80 and .96
(depending on construct)
(Crick & Grotpeter,
1995)


Evidence of Content
Validity is present:
Internal Consistency of
items for prosocial items
is .79 to .90:
for relational aggression
items is .73 to .84:
for overt aggression
items is .88 to .91:
for isolation/ unhappiness
items is .91 to .92
(Crick, 1995: Crick &
Grotpeter, 1995)


Yes, it is
easy to
administer
and score.









Yes,
however, it
may be
time-
consuming
and tedious
to
administer
and score.


Middle childhood
through adolescence
( 9 yrs 17 yrs)










3rd through 6th grade
(but can be, and has
been adapted for use
with adolescents or
individuals in college)


Crick &~ Grotpeter, 1995: Crick et al., 2004: AlcEvoy et al., 2003






Pag es
89-9 1
Mis sing
F ro m
Or iginal













APPENDIX C
LIMITATIONS OF CURRENT RELATIONAL AGGRESSION ASSESSMENT

TECHNIQUES


Table C-1. Limitations of current relational aggression assessment techniques


Instrument/Technique


Limitations


Direct Observation in Natural Setting
Based on PSBP's definition of
relational aggression
(Crick, Casas, Mosher, 1997)



Semi-structured, Analogue
Observations
(Crick et al., 2004)


Parent interview: relational aggression
(Crick & Grotpeter, 1995)


Preschool Behavior Scale- Peer Form
(PSBS-P)
(Crick, Casas, Mosher, 1997)



Preschool Behavior Scale- Teacher
(PSBS-T)
(Crick, Casas, Mosher, 1997)

Children's Social Behavior Scale -
Teacher Form
(CSBS)
(Crick, 1996)

Children's Peer Relation Scale
(CPRS)
(Crick 1991 in Crick & Grotpeter,
1995)


Peer Nomination of Relational
Aggression and other Aspects of Social
Adjustment
(Crick, 1995; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995)


1. In order to get a valid picture of each child, it is likely to become very time consuming.
2. It may be difficult to hear what the children are saying.
3. Children may behave differently as a result of having the observer present.
4. Somewhat subjective, as it depends on whether the examiner feels the behavior fits the
operational definition of relational aggression. As such, interrater-reliability is essential.
5. Control is essentially exchanged for authenticity (though this is not necessarily a limitation).

1. Coding video-tapes could become tedious
2. Not as authentic as observations in natural settings
3. Somewhat subjective, as it depends on whether the examiner feels the behavior fits the
operational definition. As such, interrater-reliability is essential.

1. No quantitative information is obtained.
2. Based on parents subjective opinion.
3. Parent may not be away of instances of relational aggression.

1. Children with limited language skills may have difficulty understanding what is being asked of
them.
2. Children may discuss with peers who have not been assessed yet, possibly skewing the
findings obtained.
3. Limited number of items for each construct (max of 7) could limit reliability.

1. Based on the teachers subjective judgment.
2. Teacher may not see all behaviors exhibited by the child.
3. Limited number of items for each construct (max of 6) could limit reliability.

1. Based on the teachers subjective judgment.
2. Teacher may not be aware of all instances of relational aggression
3. Teacher may not see all behaviors exhibited by the child.
4. Limited number of items for each construct (max of 7) could limit reliability.

1. Limited number of items for each construct (max of 5) could limit reliability. Some constructs
have as few as 2 items, which could limit reliability.
2. There is no scale to assess truthfulness of answers provided.
3. Children may be reluctant to answer in ways that they feel make them look negatively. They
may try to "please the examiner" with their answers.

1. Children may discuss assessment with peers who have not been assessed yet, possibly skewing
the findings obtained.
2. Limited number of items for each construct (max of 5) could limit reliability.
3. Children may be reluctant to negatively nominate friends who engage in items worded
negatively.









APPENDIX D
PRESCHOOL SOCIAL BEHAVIOR SCALE-TEACHER FORM

The following measure is adapted from that described in Crick, Casas, & Mosher (1997)>

Crick, N.R., Casas, J.F., & Mosher, M. (1997). Relational and overt aggression in
Preschool. Developmental Psychology, 33, 579-588.

The measure is based on a similar measure developed for use 0I ithr children in middle childhood
(e.g., Crick, 1996). The PSBS-T contains a total of 25 items and assesses the following:

Sub scales:
Relational Aggression: Items # 4, 8, 11, 13 15, 19 21, 22
Over/Physical Aggression: Items # 2, 5, 7, 12, 14, 17 20 23
Prosocial Behavior: Items # 1, 3, 6, 10
Depressed Affect: Items # 9, 16, 182,
Child's acceptance with same sex peers: Item # 24
Child's acceptance with opposite sex peers: Item # 25

1 = items cross-loaded on the factor analysis and were dropped from further analyses.
2 = item needs to be reverse-coded.












Child's Name Child's sex: Male or Female?

Teacher's Name Age


Preschool Social Behavior Scale


Teacher


Never or
almost
never tue


always
or almost
often always tmue


not some
often times


1. This child is good at sharing and taking turns
2. This child kicks or hits others.1
3. This child is helpful to peers. 1
4. This child tells a peer that he/she won't play with
that peer or be that peer's friend unless he/she does
what this child asks.
5. This child verbally threatens to hit or beat up other 1
children.
6. This child is kind to peers. 1
7. This child pushes or shoves other children.1
8. This child tells others not to play with or be a 1
peer's friend.
9. This child doesn't have much fun.1
10. This child says or does nice things for other kids. 1
11. When mad at a peer, this child keeps that peer 1
from being in the play group.
12. This child verbally threatens to physically harm 1
another peer in order to get what they want.
13. This child tries to embarrass peers by making fun 1
of them in front of other children.
14. This child ruins other peer' s things (e.g. art projects, 1
toys) when he/she is upset.
15. This child tells a peer they won't be invited to their 1
birthday party unless he/she does what the child wants.
16. This child looks sad.1
17. This child throws things at others when he/she doesn't 1
get his/her own way.
18. This child smiles at other kids. 1
19. This child walks away or turns his/her back when 1
he/she is mad at another peer.
20. This child verbally threatens to push a peer off a toy 1
(e.g. tricycle, play horse) or ruin what the peer is working
on (e.g. building blocks) unless that peer shares.
21. This child tries to get others to dislike a peer 1
(e.g. by whispering mean things about the peer
behind the peer's back).
22. This child verbally threatens to keep a peer out of the 1
play group if the peer doesn't do what the child says.
23. This child hurts other children by pinching them.1
24. This child is well liked by peers of the same sex. 1
25. This child is well liked by peers of the opposite sex.1


2 3 4 5


2 3 4


2 3 4 5

2 3 4 5

2 3 4 5


2 3 4 5


2 3 4 5


2 3 4 5









APPENDIX E
PRESCHOOL PEER NOMINATION MEASURE-PEER FORM

The following measure was adapted from that described in Crick, Casas, & Mosher (1997).

Crick, N.R., Casas, J.F., & Mosher, M. (1997). Relational and overt aggression in preschool.
Developmental Psychology, 33, 579-588.

The measure is based on a similar measure developed for use 0I ithr children in middle childhood
(e.g., Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). The PSBS-P contains a total of 19 items and assesses the
following:

Subscales:
Peer Acceptance: Item #1
Peer Rej section: Item #2
Relational Aggression: Items #4, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 16
Overt/Physical Aggression: Items #3, 5, 9, 13, 15, 18
Prosocial Behavior: Items #7, 11, 17, 19









Preschool Social Behavior Scale Peer Form
Session A
1. Point to the pictures of three kids who you like to play with.
2. Point to the pictures of three kids who you don't like to play with.
3. Point to the pictures of three kids who push or shove other kids. (OA)
4. Point to the pictures of three kids who tell other kids not to be someone's friend. The
might say, "don't play with that kid." (OA)
5. Point to the pictures of three kids who say they will hit or beat up other kids to that they
can get what they want. (VTO)
6. Point to the pictures of three kids who say they won't invite someone to their birthday party
if they can't get what they want. (VTR)
7. Point to the pictures of three kids who are good at sharing and taking turns. (PS)
8. Point to the pictures of three kids who won't let a kid play in the group if they are mad at
that kid. They might tell the kid to go away. (RA)
9. Point to the picture of three kids who say they will knock someone's stuff overt or mess it
up if they don't get to play with it too. (VTO)
10. Point to the pictures of three kids who whisper mean things about other kids. (RA)
11i. Point to the pictures of three kids who are nice to other kids. They might do nice things for
other kids. (PS)
Session B
12. Point to the pictures of three kids who tell other kids that they can't play with the group
unless they do what the group wants them to do. (VTR)
13. Point to the pictures of three kids who kick or hit other kids. (OA)
14. Point to the pictures of three kids who won't listen to someone if they are mad at them,
they may even cover their ears. (RA)
15. Point to the pictures of three kids who say they will push someone off a toy if they don't
get to play on it too. (VTO)
16. Point to the pictures of three kids who say they won't be someone' s friends if they don't
get what they want. (VTR)
17. Point to the pictures of three kids who help other kids. (PS)
18. Point to the pictures of three kids who throw things at other kids when they don't get their
way. (OA)
19. Point to the pictures of three kids who smile at other kids a lot. (PS)
Loneliness Questions Yes No Sometimes
1. Can you find a friend
when you need one?
2. Do you have kids to
play with at school?
3. Do you get along with
other kids at school?
4. Do the kids at school like
you?
5. Do you have friends at
school?
6. Do you like to hear
stories?









APPENDIX F:
EARLY CHILDHOOD SOCIAL COGNITIONS INTERVIEW

A. The ability to determine the emotional states of another person.
1. Part A: Recognize overt expressions of emotions: show child pictures of children and ask
how they are feeling. Emotions include: happy, sad, angry, surprise, and afraid.

1. Part B: Verbalize the cues to determine the emotion: Ask, "How can you tell that the
person is ?" "What about the person's face/body tells you that he/she is feeling


2. Part A: Recognizes that feelings can change, and why it happens. Say, "When Juan first
got to school today, he was crying. His teacher gave him a hug and he started smiling."
a. How did Juan feel when he got to school?
b. Why do you think he might have felt ?
c. How did Juan feel after his teacher gave him a hug?
d. Why do you think he might have felt ?

B. The ability to assume the perspective and role of another person.
1. Part A: Recognize that different people have different feelings about the same thing:
show picture of two children and say, Jessica loves clowns, but Tyler is afraid of them.
Their teacher tells them that their class will be going to a circus, and that there will be
lots of clowns there. How do you think Jessica will feel? How do you think Tyler will
feel?
Part B: Express care and concern for others: Ask, "How could Jessica help Tyler feel
better?"

C. The ability to problem solve social situations:
Show each sheet of pictures to child and say, This is (name for child A). This
is (name for child B). Can you tell me what toy this is? (show picture of toy).
Yes, a ball. Now (name of child A) has been playing with this ball for a long
time and (name of child B) want a chance to play with it. But, (name
for child A) keeps on playing with it. What can (name for child B) do so s/he
can have a change to play with the toy?"

"That' s one way. Now the idea of this game is to think of lots of ways to get a chance to
play with toys, okay? What else could (name for child B) do?

















Step 1: Encoding of Social Cues
Likely done appropriately





Step 2: Interpretation of Social Cues
Likely done appropriately





Step 3: Clarify Goals- Decide Upon
Desired Outcome


Step 5: Response Decision-
Prosocial Choice Made





Step 6: Decision Enacted-
Prosocial Behavior Occurs


APPENDIX G:
RELATIONAL AGGRESSION SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING BASED ON
RESOURCE CONTROL

(Model components taken from Crick & Dodge, 1994 and Hawley, 2003)


Prosocial
Strategies
Considered


Step 4: Access to Various Responses
Examined


Step 5: Response Decision-
Coercive Choice Made





Step 6: Decision Enacted-
Relational Aggression Occurs










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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Jennifer Harman was born and raised in Memphis, TN. She obtained her

undergraduate education at the University of Memphis, where she maj ored in psychology and

minored in sociology. Upon receiving her Bachelor of Arts in psychology, Jennifer was

admitted to the School Psychology Program at the University of Memphis. After completing a

year of graduate education at the University of Memphis, Jennifer decided she would like to

pursue a doctoral degree in school psychology. She was admitted as a doctoral student in the

School Psychology Program at the University of Florida in 2003. Jennifer earned her Masters

of Education from the University of Florida in December of 2004. She plans on completing a

clinical internship during the 2008/2009 academic school year. Upon graduation, Jennifer plans

to pursue a post-doc placement which would allow her to work towards licensing hours.





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1 A COMPARISON OF RELATIONAL AND P HYSICAL AGGRESSION CORRELATES IN YOUNG CHILDREN By JENNIFER HARMAN A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009

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2 2009 Jennifer Harman

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3 To Kevin, whose life taught me determination and whose memory continually provides me with inner strength

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First and forem ost, I thank my advisor, Dr. Tina Smith-Bonahue, whose support, encouragement, and patience seems endless. Like wise, I thank Drs. Diana Joyce, Sondra Smith, and Kristen Kemple for all of their encouragem ent, guidance, and assistance. The input and support of each of my committee members was greatly appreciated throughout the process of completing my dissertation! I also am grateful to all of the participants, their parents, their teachers, and the directors at their early childhoo d centers. Without them, th is project would have been impossible to complete! Next, I thank Tw yla Mancil, Katrina Raia, Catherine Raulerson, and Kimberly Sumara who helped with data coll ection, data entry and/or reliability checks; and, I thank Julie Ellis, Tanya Kort, Anne Laramore, and Tiffany Sanders for all of their encouragement. Last, but certainly not least, I am grateful to my family, especially my parents, who always seem to believe in me, especially at times when it is hard to believe in myself. Without their support, I never would have thought I could obtain my dreams.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........8 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................9 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIEW..............................................................11 Overview of Aggression.........................................................................................................11 Significance of Relational Aggression...................................................................................13 Theoretical Frameworks fo r Relational Aggression ........................................................16 Social Information Processing Model...................................................................... 16 Resource Control Theory................................................................................................19 Relational Aggression in Early Childhood...................................................................... 20 Assessment of Relational Aggression.................................................................................... 22 Preschool Social Behavior ScaleTeacher Form............................................................ 22 Preschool Social Behavior ScalePeer Form.................................................................. 23 Direct Observations.........................................................................................................23 Comparison of Three Methods........................................................................................ 25 Correlates of Relational Aggression....................................................................................... 25 Gender.............................................................................................................................27 Language Ability............................................................................................................. 27 Empathy and Perspective Taking Skills.......................................................................... 28 Social Competence and Friendships................................................................................ 28 Family Factors.................................................................................................................29 Significance of Physical A ggression in Early Childhood....................................................... 30 Mental Health Outcomes.................................................................................................33 Interpersonal Outcomes...................................................................................................33 Physical Aggression Intervention Programs........................................................................... 34 Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum ................................................................ 34 Play Time/Social Time: Organizing Your Classr oom to Build Social Interaction Skills......................................................................................................................... ...35 Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies..................................................................... 36 First Step to Success........................................................................................................ 37 FAST Track Prevention Program.................................................................................... 38 Additional Physical Aggression Intervention Programs................................................. 39 Purpose of the Present Study.................................................................................................. 40 2 METHODOLOGY................................................................................................................. 43 Participants.............................................................................................................................43 Procedure................................................................................................................................43

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6 Measures.................................................................................................................................45 Preschool Social Behavior ScaleTeacher Form............................................................ 45 Expressive Vocabulary Test............................................................................................45 Early Childhood Social Cognitions................................................................................. 46 Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Questionnaire.............................................. 49 Research Questions and Data Analysis.................................................................................. 49 3 RESULTS...............................................................................................................................52 Descriptive Statistics......................................................................................................... .....52 Participant Characteristics............................................................................................... 52 Class Characteristics........................................................................................................ 53 Site Characteristics..........................................................................................................53 Data Reduction.......................................................................................................................54 Statistical Assumptions........................................................................................................ ...56 Multiple Regression Analyses................................................................................................ 56 Hypothesis 1: Perspective-Taking Ab ility and R elational Aggression........................... 56 Hypothesis 2: Perspective-Taking Ab ility and Physical Aggression ..............................57 Hypothesis 3: Expressive Language Skills and Relational Aggression..........................57 Hypothesis 4: Expressive Language Skills and Physical Aggression............................. 57 Regression Analyses Ba sed on Data Reduction ..................................................................... 57 Physical aggression......................................................................................................... 58 First model................................................................................................................ 58 Second model........................................................................................................... 58 Third model..............................................................................................................58 Relational aggression....................................................................................................... 58 First model................................................................................................................ 59 Second model........................................................................................................... 59 Prosocial behavior...........................................................................................................59 First model................................................................................................................ 60 Second model........................................................................................................... 60 Analysis of Variance........................................................................................................... ....60 Hypothesis 1: Perspective-Taking Ab ility and R elational Aggression........................... 61 Scenario A: How do you think Joe will feel.................................................................... 61 Scenario B: How do you think Rachel will feel.............................................................. 62 Hypothesis 5: Relational Aggression Pe rspective Taking Ability and ECSCI ............... 63 Summary.................................................................................................................................64 4 DISCUSSION.........................................................................................................................69 Research Question 1............................................................................................................ ...69 Research Question 2............................................................................................................ ...72 Gender.............................................................................................................................72 Expressive Language Ability.......................................................................................... 73 Research Question 3............................................................................................................ ...76 Gender.............................................................................................................................76 Expressive Language Ability.......................................................................................... 76

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7 Perspective Taking Skills................................................................................................ 76 Other Findings........................................................................................................................77 Physical Aggression........................................................................................................ 77 Prosocial Skills............................................................................................................... .77 Theoretical Implications....................................................................................................... ..78 Limitations.................................................................................................................... ..........79 Design and Internal Validity........................................................................................... 79 External Validity and Generalizability............................................................................ 80 Measurement................................................................................................................... 80 Future Directions....................................................................................................................81 Perspective Taking.......................................................................................................... 81 Gender.............................................................................................................................82 Expressive Language....................................................................................................... 83 Applied Implications....................................................................................................... 83 Physical aggression.................................................................................................. 83 Relational aggression............................................................................................... 84 APPENDIX A SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING MODEL............................................................ 85 B REVIEW OF RELATIONAL AGGR ESSION ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES ................. 86 C LIMITATIONS OF CURRENT RELA TIONAL AGGRES SION ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES.......................................................................................................................92 D PRESCHOOL SOCIAL BEHAVIOR SCALETEACHER FORM..................................... 93 E PRESCHOOL PEER NOMINATIO N MEASUREPEER FORM ....................................... 95 F EARLY CHILDHOOD SOCIAL COGNITIONS INTERVI EW.......................................... 97 G RELATIONAL AGGRESSION SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING BASED ON RESOURCE CONTROL ................................................................................................. 98 LIST OF REFERENCES...............................................................................................................99 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................112

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8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1 Descriptive statistics of child characteristics ..................................................................... 66 3-2 ANOVAs for kindergarten vers us non-kindergarten classes .............................................66 3-3 Descriptive statistics of class and site characteristics ........................................................ 66 3-4 Pearson product-moment correlations and point-biserial correlations .............................. 66 3-5 Summary of regression analysis for pe rspective-taking and relational aggression ........... 67 3-6 Summary of regression analysis for perspective-taking and physical aggression ............. 67 3-7 Summary of regression analysis for e xpressive language and relational aggression ........ 67 3-8 Summary of regression analysis for e xpressive language and physical aggression ..........67 3-9 Summary of regression analysis for correlates of physical aggression ............................. 67 3-10 Summary of regression analysis for correlates of relational aggression............................ 67 3-11 Summary of regression analysis for correlates of prosocial behavior ............................... 68 3-12 Summary of oneway ANOVA and un ivariate tests scenario A......................................... 68 3-13 Summary of oeway ANOVA and ui variate tests scenario B............................................. 68 B-1 Review of relational ag gression assessm ent techniques.................................................... 86 C-1 Limitations of current relationa l aggression assessm ent techniques................................. 92

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9 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy A COMPARISON OF RELATIONAL AND PHYS ICAL AGGRESSION CORRELATES IN YOUNG CHILDREN By Jennifer L. Harman May 2009 Chair: Tina Smith-Bonahue Major: School Psychology Current prevention and inte rvention programs designed to reduce and avert early childhood aggression focus primarily on physical aggr ession. Presently no empirically validated prevention/intervention programs specifically address relational aggression. Relational aggressors use their peer relationships when enga ging in aggressive acts (to tell someone that they cannot be your friend). While a number of re searchers have examined the characteristics of physical aggressors, less is known about the char acteristics of relational aggressors. Given the first step to ameliorating relati onal aggression is accurate assessm ent, it is essential that the characteristics of relational aggressors be id entified. Inaccurate assessment or misinformation regarding correlates of relati onal aggression renders interventions ineffective or even detrimental. The primary aim of this research is to e xplore how correlates of relational aggression differ from correlates of physical aggression. The principle research questions that guide this project include: 1.) Is relationa l and physical aggression related in preschool children? 2.) What is the relationship between relational aggression and the following variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive language abilities? and3.) What is the relationship between physical

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10 aggression and the following variables: gender, perspective taking skills, and expressive language abilities? This project used inferential statistics to assess correla tes of physical aggression and relation aggression in 103 child ren enrolled in early childhoo d programs in Alachua County Florida. The Expressive Vocabular y Test was used to assess expr essive language abilities; the Preschool Social Behavior ScaleTeacher Form was used to assess le vels of physical and relational aggression; and the Early Childhood Social Cogn itions Interview and Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Questions were used to measure each participating childs level of perspective taking skills. Anticipated benefits of this project include (a) furthering knowledge of relational aggression correlates and possible predictors, (b) differen tiating predictors and correlates of relational aggressi on from predictors and correlates of physical aggression, and (c) utilizing information regarding the correlates of relational aggression to make recommendations concerning the development of relational aggr ession intervention and prevention programs.

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11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIEW Overview of Aggression Various definitions of the word aggression are em ployed within the plethora of research devoted to this topic. Although overlap is pres ent among the various definitions utilized (most researchers agree that an aggressive act is an inte ntional behavior that is harmful, either mentally or physically, and aversive to the victim) most researchers agree there are various forms and various ways to categorize aggressive acts (Crick, Casas, & Mosher, 1997; Dodge, 1980; Goldstein & Conoley, 1997; McEvoy, Es trem, Rodriguez, & Olson, 2003). Little and colleagues argue that researchers must distinguish the whys of aggressive behavior from the whats of aggressive beha vior (Little, Jones, Henrich, & Hawley, 2003). Specifically, the whys of aggressi ve behavior include descriptor s of the driving forces behind aggressive acts and the whats of aggressive behavior typify the acts being committed (Little et al., 2003). Many researchers speak of the whys of aggressive behavior through the use of the terms reactive aggression and proactiv e aggression. Specifically, reactive aggression refers to the immediate display of violent or threatening beha vior in response to anothers actions. Reactive aggression is often characterized as hot-blood ed aggression because no premeditated planning is involved with this type of aggression. Proactive aggression, on the othe r hand, is characterized as planned aggression and is sometimes referred to as instrumental aggression. Proactive, instrumental aggression is often controlled by exte rnal reinforcements and is always deliberate, intentional, and self-servi ng (Clarke, 2004; Conner, Steingard, Anderson, & Melloni, 2003; Hubbard, Dodge, Cilessen, Coie, & Swartz, 2001; Little et al., 2003; Vitaro, Brendgen & Tremblay, 2002).

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12 Some researchers categorize the whats of aggr essive acts as direct or indirect. Others categorize aggression as overt or covert. Direct, overt aggression includes acts of aggression that are carried out with both the perpetrator and the victim present. Acts of physical aggression could be categorized as direct, overt aggression. If a child physically hits another child, this act would be considered an act of direct, overt aggression. Indirect and covert aggression includes the presence of a third person that acts as a facilitator of the aggr essive act. For example, if one child starts a rumor about another child, and a thir d child helps to spread this rumor it would be considered an act of indirect, covert aggression (Kochenderfe r-Ladd & Ladd, 2001; Little, et al. 2003). Still other researchers (Monks, Ruiz, & Val, 20 02) prefer to classify aggression according to explicit descriptions of the act. For example, some classify acts of aggression as physical aggression, verbal aggression, or relational aggression. Phys ical aggression includes acts completed with physical force. For example, to hit someone, to throw something, to kick something, or to push someone would all be co nsidered acts of physical aggression. Verbal aggression includes acts of sa ying harmful words directly to someone, whereas relational aggression uses the manipulation of peer relati onships. For example, to call someone a mean name would be considered verbal aggression, but to tell someone th at they cannot be friends with you would be considered relationa l aggression (Crick, Nelson, Mora les, Cullerton-Sen, Casas, & Hickman, 2001; Monks et al., 2002). Interestingly, verbally telling someone they cannot be friends with you could be considered both a relationally and a verbally aggressive act. To clarify, some forms of relational aggression also can be considered a type of verbal a ggression. When the perp etration of relational aggression is conducted by the aggressor verbally telling the victim some thing (I wont be your

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13 friend if you let Suzy play with you) the incide nce can be characterized as both an act of relational aggression and an act of verbal aggression. Importa ntly, however, other forms of relational aggression are not able to be characterized as verbal aggression. For example, to ignore someone is considered an act of relational aggres sion because it utilizes th e peer relationship in the completion of the aggressive act. However, ignoring someone cannot be considered an act of verbal aggression (Crick, Nels on, Morales, Cullerton-Sen, Casas, & Hickman, 2001; Monks et al., 2002). Significance of Relational Aggression Relational aggression is a seri ous problem which can include social exclusion, spreading rumors, ignoring peers, asking others in the peer group to ignore or exclud e a peer, telling a peer they cannot be part of the group, as king others in the peer group to tell a peer s/he can not be part of the group, and/or setting conditional lim its on ones friendship. Each month over 200,000 students in the United States miss sc hool due to relational victimization ( http://www.opheliaproject.org retrieved 5/20/2006). Moreover, th e vast m ajority of girls who are victimized by peers (approximately 70%) ar e victims of relational aggression (Crick & Bigbee, 1998). Though the field of relational aggression is still in its infancy, a need to assess relational aggression and provide interventi on services to relationally aggr essive preschoolers has been identified. Crick, Casas, and Ne lson (2002) point out that relati onal aggression attacks childrens needs for social acceptance and closeness, which can lead to the occurrence negative interpersonal events. For example, Crick, Casas, and Ku (1999) assessed the correlation between relational victimization and soci al and psychological adjustme nt problems among 192 preschool children using peer-nominations, teacher-reports, a nd interviews. Results indicated that children who are victims of relational aggression are significantly more likely to be rejected by peers, to

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14 have poor peer relationships, to have significantly less prosocial problem solving skills, and to exhibit significantly more intern alizing problems than those who we re not found to be victims of relational aggression. Additionally, Crick and coll eagues (2006) longitudinally studied relational aggressive preschoolers. Results indicated relationally aggressive preschoole rs were more likely than non-relationally aggressive preschoolers to be continually rejected by peers. Similarly, McNeilly-Choque and colleagues (1996) used peer-nominations, teacher ratings, and direct observations to investigate re lational aggression and physical aggression among preschool children. Relational ag gression included any purposeful manipulation of the peer relationship (excluding peers, saying you can not go to my party if you dont give me the ball.), whereas physical aggression included ac ts completed with physical force (hitting, kicking, spitting on, tripping, pushing, etc). Physically aggressive boys were significantly more likely to be rejected than non-phys ically aggressive children (i.e ., both boys and girls) or than relationally aggressive boys. Sim ilarly, relationally aggressive fe males were significantly more likely to be rejected than non-rela tionally aggressive females. Investigating similar construc ts in older children, Crick and Grotpeter (1995) found that children who engaged in relati onal aggression had significantly higher levels of loneliness, depression and isolation than thei r non-relationally aggressive peer s. In a related study, Roecker Phelps (2001) examined the coping strategies of 491 third through sixth grade children who were exposed to relational and overt aggression. Ch ildren who were more commonly exposed to relational aggression tended to us e internalizing strate gies (worrying about the act of aggression, becoming anxious), whereas child ren who experienced overt aggression commonly exhibited the use of externalizing strategies (throw something).

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15 Similarly, when exploring the psychologi cal and social adjustment of relational aggressors among a sample of 9th through 12th grade students, Prinstein and colleagues (2001) found victims of relational aggre ssion exhibited more in ternalizing behavior problems (anxiety, depression) than non-victimized peers (Prinstein, Boergers, & Vernberg, 2001). Likewise, when the social-psychological adjustment of young adult victims of relational a ggression in a college sample were examined, results indicated vic tims of relational aggression were more often rejected by peers and less satisf ied with their lives than non-v ictimized peers. Additionally, relational aggression was associ ated with overall higher levels of maladjustment (Werner & Crick, 1999). Negative sequelae not only appear to be related to the victimization of relational aggression but also to the perpet ration of relational aggressio n. For example, Crick, Ostrov, and Werner (2006) found relational aggression to be a strong predictor of psychological and social maladjustment. Cillessen and Mayeux (2004) used sociometrics to measure the social status and social preference of relational aggressors and physical aggressors in a sample of 905 children ages 10 to 14. The use of relational aggression wa s predictive of low social preference and high social prominence. In other words, relationall y aggressive individuals were popular but not preferred among peers. Andreou (2006) also fo und relationally aggressive individuals are commonly popular but not liked. Additionally, when studied longitudinally, engaging in re lational aggression in the beginning of the year in later elementary school grades (3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, or 6th grade) was predictive of future so cial maladjustment at the end of that school year (Crick, 1996). More specifically, findings indicate that when comparing indivi duals who engaged in relational aggression to those who engaged in physical a ggression, the children who engaged in relational

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16 aggression were more likely to be rejected by peers. Importantly, perp etrators of relational aggression in the beginning of third grade, the be ginning of fourth grade, the beginning of fifth grade, and the beginning of sixth grade were likely to continue being consistent perpetrators of relational aggression throughout a year-long study, suggesting re lational aggression may be a relatively stable characteristic in these indivi duals (Crick, 1996). This finding specifically highlights the need for research to inform relational aggression intervention projects. Relational aggression does not appear to be a characteristic that dissip ates on its own. The need for intervention services is vast. However, prior to developing intervention programs for relational aggression, more research must be conducted to identify the correlate s and predictors of relational aggression. Theoretical Frameworks for Relational Aggression Numerous studies use the Social Informati on Processing Model (SIPM) to describe the cognitive actions engaged in by relational aggres sors. Recent studies have begun to consider the Resource Control Theory in the explanation of relational aggression. Each of these frameworks provides valuable tools for the explanation of relationally aggressive behaviors. Social Information Processing Model The Social Inform ation Processing Model (SIP M) has been used to explain physically aggressive behavior by many researchers (Coi e & Cillessen, 1993; Dodge, Lansford, Salzer Burks, Bates, Pettit, Fontaine, & Price, 2003; Salzer Burks, Laird, & Dodge, 1999; WebsterStratton & Lindsay, 1999). In fact, most studies that link social information processing to the use of aggressive behavior directed towards peers focuses on physical aggres sion (Crick, Grotpeter, & Bigbee, 2002). However, Crick and colleague s (1995, 1999) have begun to demonstrate the usefulness of the SIPM in e xplaining relational aggression.

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17 In the SIPM, childrens social behaviors, including various forms of aggression, are considered to be a function of any one of the fo llowing steps: encoding so cial cues, interpreting social cues, forming goals, availability of acce ss to a response(s), and deciding upon a response (Crick & Dodge, 1994). (See Appendix A). Physically aggressive individuals are commonly found to hold a hostile attribution biases (an ex cessively negative processing of information) with regard to their social information processing. More specifically, th e hypothesis states that physically aggressive children interpret social cu es delivered by others (peers) as having hostile or malice intent, despite if this is the case (Coie & Cillessen, 1993; Dodge, et al., 2003; Salzer Burks et al., 1999; Webster-S tratton & Lindsay, 1999). According to the SIPM, holding a hostile attribution bias in creases the likelihood that a child will react aggressively to behaviors ex hibited by peers (Crick et al., 2002). Crick, Grotpeter, and Bigbee (2002) suggested that physically aggressive children may be more likely to hold hostile attribution bias es for instrumental provocati on contexts, and relationally aggressive children may be more likely to hol d hostile attribution biases for relational provocation contexts (p. 1136). Examples of in strumental provocations include disagreements involving physical dominance, terr itory issues, or instrumental concerns (Crick et al., 2002, p. 1136). Examples of relational provocations include interpersonal issues or relational concerns such as social exclusion, disagreements with frie nds, or being the target of peers gossip (Crick et al., 2002, p. 1136). For example, this hypothesi s suggests that children who engage in relational aggression would assume that malice was intended if they did not get invited to a sleep over (i.e., social exclusion), even if this was not the case (the child who had the sleep over was not allowed to invite any more children).

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18 To test this hypothesis, Cric k and colleagues (2002) conducted two studies. In the first study, 825 third grade children from various elemen tary schools were screened to identify how physically and relationally aggressive they we re. Results from this study identified 127 individuals who were either ex tremely physically aggressive when compared to peers or extremely relationally aggressive when compared to peers. The extremely aggressive individuals completed measures assessing their intent attrib utions and emotional distress. In the second study, 535 third to sixth grade children comple ted the aggression, intent attribution, and emotional distress instruments. Results from bot h of these independent studies indicated that physically aggressive individuals were more likely to hold ho stile attribution biases for instrumental provocations and relationally aggr essive individuals were more likely to hold hostile attribution biases for relational provocatio ns (Crick et al., 2002). Interestingly, these findings have not been replicated in later studies. For example, Crain, Finch, and Foster (2006) conducted two independent studies to examine the social-information processing variables (holding hostile attribution biases) in relationally aggressive four ththrough sixth-grade girls, and found hostile intent attributi ons and outcome expectancies we re not significantly related to peer nominations of relational ag gression (Crain et al., 2006). The SIPM suggests that physically aggressive children lack empathy when deciding upon a response to the actions of others. When describing the utilization of the SI PM to the explanation of relational aggression, Crick and colleagues (1995, 1999; Murray-Close, Crick, & Galotti, 2006) suggest that relationally aggressive indi viduals also lack empathy when deciding upon a response to the actions of others. However, al ternatives to this school of thought should be considered. One alternative hypothe sizes that relationally aggre ssive individuals do not lack empathy-related perspective taking skills. More specifically, the nature of relational aggression

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19 involves manipulation. In order to be effective at manipulation, individuals need to be able to engage in perspective taking. Relationally aggressive individuals likely understand how their actions may make peers feel. If they did not, their utilization of relational aggression may not be effective in meeting their needs. Therefore, relationally aggressi ve individuals likely do possess some aspects of empathy (perspective taking). The aspect of empathy that is not clearly evident in relationally aggressive individuals is the ability to feel as others do. Resource Control Theory The Resource Control Theory (Hawley, 2003) could be used in com bination with the SIPM to inform hypotheses regarding the decisi on-making process of relationally aggressive children. The Resource Control Theory hypothesizes that vari ous interactions require competition for resources (competition for attention of peers, a certain place in line, a desired object, etc). The presence of such competition pr ompts the use of strategic control efforts. These control efforts can be prosocial, coercive, or a mixture thereof. For example, a child who would like to obtain a desired toy could think to themselves I w ould like the toy Billy has. How can I obtain that toy, they could then decide upon a strategic c ontrol strategy to utilize. The child could decide upon a prosocial strategy (think to her/himself, I could ask Billy for the toy and then ask Billy May I play with that t oy, please?), or a coercive strategy (think to her/himself if I push Joey, and he runs into Billy, Billy will probably push Joey back, and the teacher may put Billy in time out, and I will get to play with the toy Billy has.). Bistrategic controllers, or children who us e a mixture of prosocial and coercive control methods, are commonly the most relationally aggressive children in their peer groups (Hawley, 2003). These individuals are likely skilled at taking the perspectives of p eers and matching the use of their control strategy to their current situations. Hawley (2003) found that relationally aggressive bistrategic controllers have higher levels of moral maturity than their less relationally aggressive

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20 peers. Moreover, these individuals likely have better developed language abilities than their nonrelationally aggressive peers. As such, it could be hypothesized that relationally aggressive preschool-aged children may be mo re mature with regard to em pathy-related perspective taking skills than their non-relationally aggressive peers. Relational Aggression in Early Childhood As mentioned previously, relational aggression occurs when a peer uses her/his relationship as a means to harm, threaten, or persua de another peer to engage in or not engage in a specific behavior. Relational a ggression can include social excl usion as a way to retaliate (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). For example, when a preschooler says I wont be your friend unless you let me paint with that brush, (s)he is engaging in relational aggression. Though this form of aggression is most co mmonly found among adolescent females, it can be seen as early as the pres chool years (Bonica, Arnold, Fisher Zajo, & Yershova, 2003; Crick, Casas, & Mosher, 1997; Crick et al., 2001; McE voy et al., 2003). During the preschool years, young childrens social skills are developing. As suc h, the relationally aggressive acts exhibited by these children are usually direct and obvious. For example, it is much more likely that you will hear a preschooler tell a peer that she will no t be her friend than to have that preschooler spread a rumor about the p eer (Crick et al., 2001). The majority of the research examining relational aggression among preschoolers has found it to be most common among female presc hoolers (Bonica et al., 2 003; Crick et al., 1997; Crick et al., 2001; Crick et al., 2006; McNeilly-Choque, Hart, Robinson, Nelson, & Olsen, 1996). However, McEvoy and colleagues (2003) f ound that preschool boys engage in both relational and physical aggression more often than preschool girls. More specifically, McEvoy et al. found relational aggression was the most common form of aggression among preschool females; yet, preschool boys were found to enga ge in more acts of relational aggression than

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21 preschool girls. However, these findings have not been replicated. McEvoy and colleagues point out that their findings are discrepant with regard to the curren t literature and suggest that there is a need to examine this further in orde r to place confidence in these findings. Estreem (2005) assessed the language abilities an d aggressiveness of 100 preschool-aged children. Results indicated that ov erall incidences of relational and physical aggression tend to decrease as language skills incr ease. However relational aggressi on and physical aggression were not differentiated. Park, Essex, Zahn-Waxler, and colleagues (2005) also found language skills to be lower in individuals who exhibit relational and physical aggression. Again, Park and colleagues did not consider the differences inherent in the types of aggression exhibited. When the type of aggression being measured was held constant, relationally aggressive preschool-aged girls tended to exhibit higher ex pressive language ski lls than non-relationally aggressive and than physically aggressive pres chool-aged girls (Estrem, 2005). Similarly, Bonica and colleagues (2003) found expressive language skill s and receptive language skills to be better developed in relationally aggres sive individuals than in i ndividuals who did not exhibit significant relationally aggressive characteristics. These findings are consistent with hypotheses posited by Crick and colleagues (1997), s uggesting that relatio nal aggression among preschoolers may be facilitated by strong verbal language skills. Additionally, Sebanc (2003) asse ssed the role of friendships in young childrens aggressive acts. Specifically, relationally aggressive children and overtly a ggressive children were found to have friendships ridden with conflict. However, relationally aggressive children tended to experience more exclusive and more intimate frie ndships than children w ho were not relationally aggressive, suggesting that the so cial abilities of relationally aggressive children may not be under-developed (Sebanc, 2003). Simon (2002) also found evidence that th e social abilities of

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22 relationally aggressive young child ren may be average or above average. For example, Simon demonstrated that the empathy-related perspective taking skills of relationally aggressive preschool boys was well-devel oped when compared to the perspective taking skills of nonrelationally aggressive peers. However, the relationship between empathy-related perspective taking skills and relational aggression in female s was not significant. Moreover, this study has not been replicated, demonstrating the need fo r future studies to further investigate this constructs link to relationa l aggression in young children. Assessment of Relational Aggression Relational aggression has traditionally been assessed in elementary, middle, and high school students using teacher ra tings and peer nominations. (See Appendix B for an overview of the methods used to assess relational aggression and Appendix C for a list of the limitations of each form of assessment). The traditional met hods for assessing relational aggression among preschool students include the use of teacher ra tings and peer nominations (Bonica et al., 2003; Crick et al., 1997; Crick et al., 2001; McEvoy et al., 2003; McNeilly-Choque et al., 1996). Specifically, the two most common tools utili zed for assessing relational aggression among preschool children include the Preschool Social Behavior Scale-Teacher Form (PSBS-T) (See Appendix D) and the Preschool Social Behavior Scale-Peer Form (PSBS-P), each of which were originally developed by Cric k and colleagues in 1997. Preschool Social Behavior ScaleTeacher Form The PSBS-T is a teacher rating scale utilized with teachers of 3-year-old to 5-year-old students. This scale consists of 25 items divided in to 4 scales (i.e., the relational aggression scale, overt/physical aggression scale; prosocial behavior scale; and depressed a ffect scale). Six of the total items reliably assess relational aggre ssion; another 6 reliabl y assess overt, physical aggression; 4 reliably asses prosocial behavior, and 3 reli ably assess depressed affect

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23 (Chronbachs = .87-.96) (Crick et al., 1997; Crick, Ostrov, Appleyard, Janeson, & Casas, 2004). This scale is simple to administer. Like wise, scoring is not complicated. On the other hand, the PSBS-T relies upon the teachers subjective opinion; and, the lim ited number of items included on this scale could impair its reliability. Preschool Social Behavior ScalePeer Form The PSBS-P is a peer nom ination measure used with children ages 3 to 5. During an assessment utilizing the PSBS-P, children engage in two 15-minute interview sessions with an examiner. During these sessions, a picture nomination procedure is utilized to reliably assess relational aggre ssion (Chronbachs = .71), overt physical aggression (Chronbachs = .77), and prosocial behavior (Chronbachs = .68). The total scale consis ts of 14 items. A total of 4 items are devoted to each construct (relati onal aggression, overt aggression, and prosocial behavior), and 2 additional items are used to assess peer-rejection and peer-acceptance ratings (Crick et al., 1997; Crick, et al., 2004). As w ith the PSBS-T, this assessment is simple to administer and score. Conversely, outcomes coul d be negatively impacted if children discuss their nominations after participating in the interview. Direct Observations The third m ost common method utilized in assessing relati onal aggression among preschool students includes engagi ng in direct observations. This method could be utilized in order to assess relational and physical aggres sion, relational aggressi on alone, or physical aggression alone. When utilizing this method fo r the assessment of re lational aggression, the following operational definition is commonly employed: any verbal or nonverbal behavior that (a) excludes others from play or encourages others to exclude a ch ild (tells others not to play with or be a peers friend) or (b) threatens to exclude or ignore (You wont be invited to my birthday party unless you give me th at toy) (McEvoy et al., 2003, p. 56).

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24 In utilizing the direct observation method of assessing relational a ggression, naturalistic observations or semi-structured observations coul d take place. Using the naturalistic observation method, children are observed in their natural se tting. For example, these observations usually take place on the playground, or in the preschool classroom. In engaging in direct, naturalistic observations, a partial interval observation system is commonly employed. In this method, the observation period is broken down into 10 second intervals. If any act of relational aggression occurs anytime during a 10-second interval, it is marked accordingly. If more than a single instance of relational aggression occurs during a 10-second interval it is only marked once. The rate of relational aggression is calculated by summing the observed frequency of relational aggression and dividing it by the number of total possible occurrences for each child (Crick et al., 2004; McEvoy et al., 2003). As with the previous two assessment me thods, this technique is simple and straightforward. Similarly, because it is a direct observation occurr ing in a naturalistic setting, it is authentic. Conversely, the obs erver is unable to know the exte nt of the impact of his/her presence in the childs environment. The observer also is at a disadvantag e because he/she must get close enough to hear the verbal exchange s going on between children. While on a noisy playground this may be difficult to do from afar. In semi-structured, analogue observations one tries to elicit and capture (often on videotape) the types of peer interac tions that naturally occur in the preschoolers environment. For example, a group of preschoolers may be asked to color in a coloring book, and not be given enough crayons for everyone in the group. Essentially, the recordings of the peer interactions are closely observed and all instances of relationally aggressive acts are recorded. This method is relatively costand time-efficient; however, some authenticity may be lost (Crick et al., 2004).

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25 Comparison of Three Methods McEvoy and colleagues (2003) compared the 3 most commonly uti lized m ethods of assessing relational aggression among preschool students. Specifically, 59 preschool students ranging in age from 42 months (i.e., 3 years, 6 m onths) to 70 months (i.e., 5 years, 10 months) were assessed using the naturalistic direct obs ervation method described above, the PSBS-T, and the PSBS-P. Teacher and peers tended to identify the same children as relationally aggressive. Direct observations of relational aggression, on the other hand, were not as strongly correlated to peer nominations or teacher ratings. Importantly, when only rank order data pertaining to the preschool girls were analyzed, there was agreement among the 3 methods utilized. The relationship between direct observations, peer no minations, and teacher ratings was also assed with regard to physical aggression. More ag reement was found with regard to physical aggression, possibly because it is easier to identify th an relational aggression. Correlates of Relational Aggression The em pirical literature is quite informative concerning the negative sequelae related to the perpetration and victimization of relational ag gression. Unfortunately, re searchers provide few suggestions regarding how to prevent or alter relational aggression. Prio r to being able to develop relational aggression pr evention and intervention programs, data must be provided regarding the correlates and pred ictors of relational aggression. The first step to ameliorating relational aggression is accurate assessment of relational aggression, its correlates, and its predictors. Inaccurate assessment of relational aggression or misinformation regarding predictors and correlates of relational aggr ession renders interventions ine ffective or even detrimental. Early assessment and identific ation of relational aggression correlates is critical. Previous researchers have demonstrated rela tional aggression is rela ted to serious psychosocial adjustment and peer relation problems. Currently there are few empirically validated

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26 methods to prevent or interv ene with relati onal aggression (The Ophelia Project and the Empower Program, Young, Boye, & Nelson, 2006) a nd none that address relational aggression in young children (Merrell, Buchanan, & Tran, 2006). Prevention and intervention programs that have been suggested for use in early childhood programs are often developed specifically for preventing physical aggression. These programs are commonly language based programs that address empathy. Language ability has been linked to relational aggre ssion (Crick et al., 1997); however, the link of empathy to relational aggre ssion in young children has yet to be definitively demonstrated. Many programs developed to a ddress physical aggressi on focus on perspective taking as a way to increase empathy and inadvert ently decrease aggression. The utility of this method to decrease relational aggression has not been empirically validated. As hypothesized previously, using the Resource Control Theory in combination with the Social Information Processing Model, relationally a ggressive individuals may be qu ite skilled at empathy-related perspective taking. Studies testing models of relational aggre ssions predictive variab les and correlates are needed in order to inform relational a ggression intervention and prevention program development. Significant relationships among language ability, social ability and gender exist. Moreover, the relationship of relational aggressi on to language ability and to gender has been demonstrated (relationally aggr essive individuals are often females with well-developed language abilities). A model that systematically examines the relative co ntribution of each of these variables (i.e., gender, langu age ability, and social ability) to relational aggression in young children would likely prove quite useful in the further development of relational aggression prevention and intervention programs.

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27 Gender Most researchers exam ining relational aggression among preschoolers have found it to be most common among female pres choolers (Bonica et al., 2003; Cr ick et al., 1997; Crick et al., 2001; McNeilly-Choque, Hart, Robinson, Nelson, & Olsen, 1996). However, McEvoy and colleagues (2003) found that preschool boys enga ge in both relational and physical aggression more often than preschool girls. More speci fically, McEvoy et al. f ound relational aggression was the most common form of aggression among preschool females; however, preschool boys were found to engage in more acts of relational aggression than preschoo l girls. These findings have not been replicated, highlighting the need for future research to further examine this phenomenon. Language Ability Estreem (2005) assessed the language abilities and physic al and relational aggressiveness of 100 preschool-aged children. Resu lts indicated that ov erall incidences of aggression tend to decrease as language skills increase. Park, Essex, Zahn-Waxler and colleagues (2005) also found language skills to be lower in individuals who exhibit relational and physical aggression. Each of these findings did not consid er the differences inherent in the types of aggression exhibited. When the type of aggr ession being measured was held constant, relationally aggressive preschool-aged girls tended to exhibit higher expressi ve language skills than non-relationally aggressive and than physica lly aggressive preschool-aged girls (Estrem, 2005). Similarly, Bonica and colleagues (2003) found expressive language skills and receptive language skills to be better developed in relationally aggressive females than in females who did not exhibit significant relationall y aggressive characteristics.

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28 Discrepancies in the literature concerning whether expressive language skills, receptive language skills, or both are better developed in relationally aggressi ve preschoolers warrants further investigation of these constructs. Empathy and Perspective Taking Skills Loudin, Loukas, and Robinson (2003) exam ined the empathy-related perspective taking skills and empathic concern present in college students who exhibited relational aggression and in those who did not. Lower levels of perspective taking skills were found to be related to higher levels of relational aggression. Empathic con cern was not found to be related to relational aggression in females. However, lower levels of empathic concern were predictive of higher levels of relational aggression in males. Cric k and colleagues (2004) postulate that similar findings are likely to be found with younger samples. However, clear evidence of the occurrence of such findings in younger samples has not been demonstrated. Simon (2002) assessed psyc hosocial correlates of relati onal aggression in 135 preschoolaged children. Affective perspec tive-taking skills (i.e., empathy-re lated perspective taking skills) were found to be significantly related to relational aggression in preschool aged boys. Specifically, preschool-aged boys who were found to be relationally aggressive were also found to have well-developed empathy-related pers pective taking skills. The relationship between empathy-related perspective taking skills and relational aggression in females was not significant. These findings, along with Cricks divergent hypothesi s and the contrasting findings Loundin et al. obtained using a college sample demonstrate the need to further assess the constructs of relational aggr ession and empathy-related pe rspective taking skills. Social Competence and Friendships The role of social abilities in relation to the pr edication of relationa l aggression in young children has not been clearly dem onstrated in th e literature. Neverthele ss, Sebanc (2003) found

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29 certain friendship characteristics are more comm only seen in relationally aggressive preschoolers than in their non-relationally aggressive peers. For example, relationally aggressive children and overtly aggressive children were found to have friendships ridden with conflict. However, relationally aggressive children tended to experience more exclusive and more intimate friendships than children who were not relationally aggressive. Th e latter finding suggests that the social abilities of relationally aggressive children may be sufficiently developed when compared to non-relationally aggressive peers (Sebanc, 2003). Relatedly, Anderou (2006) found elementary-aged relationally aggressive child ren are commonly popular but not liked by peers, and are often skilled at pers pective-taking. Similarly, Simon (2002) found empathy-related perspective taking skills to be be tter developed in relationally aggr essive preschool boys than in non-relationally aggressive preschool boys, demo nstrating the need to further assess this construct in relation to th e prediction of relational aggression in early childhood. Family Factors Werner, Senich, and Przepyszny (2006) exam in ed mothers responses to scenarios of physical aggression as compared to their responses to scenarios of relational aggression among preschool children. Findings indica te mothers view relational a ggression less negatively than physical aggression. Moreover, mothers were found to be less likely to interv ene in situations of relational aggression when compared to situations of physical aggression. Similarly, Casas and colleagues (2006) exam ined the parent-child relationships of young children and how the use of relational aggression fl uctuates as a function of those relationships. Mothers use of a permissive parenting style was found to be predictive of relational aggression when effects due to age and gender were controlled. Moreover, each parents use of psychological control was found to be positively correlated to relational aggression in females

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30 and to physical aggression in males. The fathers use of love withdrawal also was found to be predictive of male participants use of relational aggression. Relational aggression among siblings also has been found to be predictive of relational aggression among young children. For example, Ostrov, Crick, and Stauffacher (2006) found that preschoolers who have older siblings who uti lize relationally aggressive strategies are more likely to engage in relational aggression among peers. However, relationa l aggression appears to be more commonly applied to sibling-dyads than to peer-dyads at age 4. This trend no longer appears to be present at age 8, when relational aggression between friends appears to increase (Stauffaucher & DeHart, 2006). Significance of Physical Aggression in Early Childhood Physically aggressive acts are common am ong very young children. For instance, toddlers will of ten push, bite, shove, or hit other children when they become angry. As individuals move into the preschool years, they tend to turn to verbal aggressi on, including yelling at other children and having temper tantrums (Coie & Do dge, 1997). Physical aggression exhibited in the early childhood years can be a predictor of aggression in later childhood and adolescence. Additionally, early aggression ha s been related to adolesce nt antisocial behavior and delinquency. Several factors influence the actual development of aggression in children but once established a repeated pattern of physical aggr ession becomes a detrimental and stable trait, highlighting the need for early intervention. Physical aggression is a social and personal problem that could have serious negative outcomes. Aggression comes at a gr ave personal cost to the indivi dual and at a great expense to the community and society as a whole. On a pers onal level, some aggres sive children tend to have higher rates of delinquent acts, lower academic achievement, poor peer relationships, as well as mental health issues. Clearly, these personal difficulties translate into serious social

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31 problems such as involvement in the justi ce system, school dropout, poor community bonds, and mental illness (Huesmann, Eron, & Dubow, 2002; Risi, Gerhardstein, & Kistner, 2003; McMonagle, 2006; Miller-Johnson, Coie Maumary-Gremaud, & Bierman, 2002). The majority of aggressive children do not gr ow up to become aggressive adults. A small percentage of children who display aggressive be havior continue the pattern into adolescence and adulthood, often across multiple settings. These ch ildren are often referred to as early starters (Moffitt, 1993; Taylor, Iacono, & McGue, 2000). Earl y starters are on a deve lopmental trajectory of increasing severity and multiplicity of problem behaviors. Delinquency Miller-Johnson and colleague s (1999) found physical aggres sion and corresponding peer rejection in a sample of 3rd graders predicted various delinquent acts in 6th, 8th, and 10th grade. Relatedly, Coie and colleagues (1992) followed tw o cohorts of third grad ers through their first year of middle school. The ch ildren who displayed physical aggr ession at the onset of the study (i.e. at the beginning of third grade) were found to have higher le vels of externalizing behavior problems at the end of the study. This suggest s early physical aggres sion predicted later adolescent disorders. These two studies both involved samples that represented low SES, African American populations; however another study by Huesmann and colleagues (2002) contained a sample that was primarily middle class and repres entative of various ethnicities. Huesmann et al. (2002) identified early physical aggression and peer rejection in a sample of third graders as a risk factor for an increased like lihood of being arrested for various crimes up to 22 years later. Consistent findings also are provided usi ng younger populations. For example, in another study Miller-Johnson and colleagues (2002) followe d a group of first grade students who were physically aggressive and rejected by peers. These students were found to experience conduct

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32 problems in the fourth grade. Moreover, physic al aggression at the onset of the study was predictive of impulsive and emotionally r eactive behaviors at the end of the study. Broidy and colleagues (2003) investigated the stability of physically aggressive behavior in a longitudinal study that evaluate d participants from as early as birth through adolescence. Participants were representative of three countr ies, with two sites in each country. The findings suggested that problematic behavi or (physical aggression) remain ed stable throughout the childs development. Interestingly, the participants from the United States were the only children to show an increase in problematic behaviors as they aged. The later suggests that the climate in the United States may support physical ly aggressive behavior. Early childhood physically aggressive behavior again was found to be a predictor of adolescen t delinquent acts (Broidy et al., 2003) Educational Outcomes Risi, Gerhardstein, and Kistne r (2003) and Kupersmidt and Coie (1990) also found that physically aggressive children are more likely to drop out of school. Ensminger and Slusarckick (1992) explored aggressive behavior in relati on to low academic and occupational achievement. Results indicated physical aggressi on in early elementary school is highly correla ted with later school dropout. Previous research indicated childre n with behavior problems, especially in early childhood, tend to experience poor academic achie vement and school failure (Barrington and Hendricks, 1989; Cairns, Cairns, and Neckerman, 1989; Hawkins et al, 1991; Risi, Gerhardstein, & Kistner, 2003; Shinn, Ramsey, Walker, ONe ill, & Steiber, 1987; Trembley, 1992). Whether physical aggression is directly related to low achievement or confrontations with teachers remains unclear. However, confront ation with teachers is related to low teacher expectations, which then impacts school achievement (Brophy, 1983; Meyer, 1985).

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33 Mental Health Outcomes Mental health and psychopathology also are concerns for children with physically aggressive tendencies. A significant childhood factor related to later drug and alcohol use is physical aggression. McMonagle (2006) found hi gh school students who used drugs, sm oked, and abused alcohol were more likely to engage in physically aggressive behaviors. Moreover, Kellam, Brown, Rubin, and Ensminger (1983) found in a longitudinal study of African American children followed from age 6 y ears to 16-17 years that early p hysical aggression influenced substance use. Ferguson and Horwood (1998) exam ined early conduct problems and later life opportunities; the conduct problem definition in cluded aggression. Conclusions indicated that children with early-onset conduct problems are at -risk for substance a buse as well as other mental health concerns. Interpersonal Outcomes Interpersonal relationships are trem endously difficult for children demonstrating physically aggressive behaviors because phys ically aggressive children ofte n have difficulty interpreting social cues properly (Crick & Dodge, 1994). They tend to assign more hostile intentions than is meant by the sender of the social message (de Castro, Welmoet, Willem, Veerman, & Bosch, 2005; Dodge, 1985; Milich & Dodge, 1984). This misinterpretation, especially in early childhood, often results in physic ally aggressive actions. Altepeter and Korger (1999), and Shinn, ONeill, and Ramsey (1987) found physically aggressive children have poor peer social relations. Rejection, especially in early childhood, is linked to later aggressive and vi olent behaviors (U.S Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). Due to lack of social skills, physically aggr essive children are ofte n rejected by their peers (Coie, Dodge, & Kupersmidt, 1990). However, as these children grow older and reach adolescence, they are not completely friendless. In fact, they frequently hold membership in

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34 social groups that have simila r experiences and attitudes (Cai rns, 1988), thus, perpetuating a cycle of aggression and rejection. Physical Aggression Intervention Programs The study of physical aggression has evolve d throughout the years, and many predictors and correlates of physical aggression (being male, being from a low SES background, growing up in a violent neighborhood, being born to young parents who use harsh punishment, parental conflict, marital discord, coercive relationships with parents, difficult temperaments, socially rejected, low school achievement, low language abilities, etc.) have been repeatedly identified (Coie & Dodge, 1997; Juvonen & Graham, 2001; Lavigne, Cicchetti, Gibbons, Binns, Larsen, & Devitto, 2001; Mathesen & Sanson, 2000; McEv oy et al., 2003; Monks et al., 2002 Pierce, Ewing, & Campbell, 1999). Unlike researchers who study relational aggre ssion, researchers who study physical aggression have had plenty of empi rical data related to th e correlates of physical aggression to rely upon when devising physic al aggression intervention programs. Within early childhood, general strategies used to combat physical aggression include home visits, parenting programs, marital a nd family therapy, and early childhood education. Moreover, when addressing youth and/or adolescen ts many strategies focus on teaching problem solving skills, violence prevention curricula, mentoring, peer mediation, peer counseling, and vocational training/employment (Kellerm an, Fuqua-Whitley, Rivara, & Mercy, 1998). A description of some specific programs frequently cited in the literature follows. Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum Though other prim ary prevention programs (e.g., Peace Builders Program, Resolving Conflict Creatively Program) are cited in the literature, Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum (i.e., Second Step) is one of the programs most fre quently discussed. Second Step was developed by the Committee for Children an d is implemented by teachers of children

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35 preschool aged through eighth grade. It focuses on teaching impulse control, anger management, and empathy to the students involved in the program via the use of class discussions, roleplaying, modeling, corrective fee dback, and contingent positive reinforcement (Leff, Power, Manz, Costigan, & Nabors, 2001). Grossman and colleagues (1997) conducted a pretest-posttest contro l group design with 790 second and third graders to measure the eff ectiveness of Second Ste p. In this study, all second graders in specified schools were targeted. When parent and teacher ratings were utilized, they found a positive modest effect for the interv ention. More specifically, after the intervention implementation, teachers and parents reported a decr ease in physical aggression and an increase in prosocial behaviors in the lunchroom and on the playground. Th erefore, Second Step has been shown to not only decrease levels of physical ag gression but also increase levels of prosocial behaviors (Grossman et al., 1997). However, Sec ond Steps ability to decrease levels of relational aggression has not been empirically validated. Play Time/Social Time: Organizing Your Classroom to B uild Social Interaction Skills Kamps and colleagues (2000) implemented a so cial intervention to physical aggression which included social skills training with re inforcement and peer tutoring. Two cohorts of children from Head Start participated in this study. The first cohort began with 33 children in kindergarten; however ended up with only 19 child ren in first-grade. The second cohort began with 20 children in preschool, however ended up with 12 children in kindergarten. Each child who participated was identified as ha ving heightened behavioral risks. In the first year of intervention, students in Cohort 1 enga ged in affection activities, and received social skills instruction using Play Time/Social Time: Organizing You Classroom to Build Interaction Skills, a curriculum developed at Vanderbilt University and the University of Minnesota. Affection activities occu rred 2 to 4 times per week, and social skills lessons occurred

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36 1 to 3 times per week. Cohort 1 received 2 year s of intervention followed by peer tutoring in reading. Cohort 2 received 2 years of interventio n beginning in the second year of the study. Their social skills' training was the same as th e one used with Cohort 1. In each cohort, teachers were instructed to provide reinforcement in the form of stickers on a chart when children were "caught" using the skills taught du ring their social skills trai ning lessons. Kamps and colleagues (2000) found the use of social skills training coupled with reinforcement and peer tutoring favorably impacted young physically aggressive children. However Play Time/Social Times usefulness with relationally aggressive children has yet to be demonstrated. Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies Another intervention program that has had pos itive effects on physical aggression in young children is one devised by Kusche and Greenbe rg (1995) called "Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies" (PATHS) (in Leff et al., 2001). This program consists of discussions, direct instruction, and modeling aimed at helping children to develop se lf-control, emotion regulation, and problem solving skills. Originally developed for use with deaf ch ildren, it has since been adapted and empirically validated for use with various other populat ions, including regular education children. The objective of PATHS is to help children develop appropriate problem solving skills, self-control, and emotional regulation. The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Gr oup (1999) found a modest positive effect on peer sociometric measures of physical aggres sion for children who participated in the PATHS program. Although the effect size was small, fi ndings were consistent across school location (urban and rural), socioeconomic status, and et hnic composition of classrooms involved in the study. No overall differences were found betwee n control and intervention groups on teacher ratings of classroom aggression; however, teach ers who implemented the program with higher treatment integrity did report sign ificant decreases in classroom aggression (in Leff et al., 2001).

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37 In a similar study, Kamp and colleagues ( 2003) found PATHS was not only effective in decreasing physical aggression in schools, but also in improving children's emotional competence. Two factors were found to contribute to successful outcomes from PATHS: adequate support from the school principle, and high treatment integrity by teachers implementing PATHS (Kamp, Greenberg, & Walls, 2003). In each of these studies, the PATHS program was used with young school-aged children who already exhibited physically aggressive behaviors. No data are available regarding PATH S efficacy for use with relationally aggressive children. First Step to Success Walker and colleagues (1998) developed anothe r prevention program ca lled First Step to Success to prevent antisocial behaviors from developing in disruptive and aggressive kindergartners. With this program, a screening pr ocedure is used to identify the most at-risk kindergarteners. Next, a classroom-based intervention is used to increase prosocial behaviors and decrease physically aggressive or disruptive behaviors in thes e at-risk kindergarteners. A group dependent contingency procedur e incorporating adult praise, peer support and approval, and careful monitoring of performances is used in th is phase. Target children are able to earn group privileges, individual privileges or home rewards for engaging in appropriate behaviors. The final component of this program involves home ba sed parent training in which parents are taught how to teach the target child school-related ski lls. In this phase, the importance of home and school communication is emphasized. Walker and colleagues (1998) evaluated the effectiveness of their program using an experimental-waitlist/contr ol group design. The experime ntal group consisted of 24 kindergarteners who participated in the First St ep to Success program for a 3-month period prior to the control/waitlist group participating in th e program. Results from this program have shown

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38 decreases in the amount of physically aggressive behaviors teachers repor t. Additionally, after implementation, teachers have reported incr eases in both adaptive behaviors and on-task behaviors (in Leff et al., 2001; Wa lker, Stiller, Severson, Feil, & Golly, 1998). First Steps to Success also has not been empirically validated for use with relationall y aggressive children. FAST Track Prevention Program The Conduct Prevention Research Team inve stigated the use of the FAST Track Prevention Program. They demonstrated that a combination of parent training sessions, case manager home visits, social-cognitive therapeu tic interventions, and academic/classroom interventions for elementary school children can l ead to greater problem solving competence and fewer (physically) aggressive and disruptive behavioral outbu rsts (in Fields & McNamara, 2003, p. 76). The sample utilized by the Conduct Pr evention Research Team included individuals who, by age 5, were identified as being at risk for chronic violence and conduct problems. These at-risk individuals were referred to as "early starters." This study was conducted across four varying geographical sites. Schools in each area we re chosen for inclusion in this study based upon high rates of crime and poverty in the neig hborhoods in which they resided. Children at each school included in this study were chosen on the basis of both parent ratings of the child's behavior at home and te acher ratings of the child's behavior at school. Entire schools served as intervention sites or control sites. The families of each child who was targeted for intervention also participated in this study. The total intervention consisted of parent group meetings, tutoring for the students, consultations with teachers, home visits, a nd skill-building groups for the children. Data were obtained usi ng teacher reports, parent report s, child interviews and peer ratings. By the end of this four-year study, the intervention group tended to have significantly lower parent reported oppositional and aggressive behaviors. Interestingly, parenting behavior change found during grade 3 significantly accounte d for the relationship between the effect of

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39 the intervention on aggressive and oppositiona l behaviors during grade 4. Moreover, the researchers found that by grade 4, the control gr oup received significantly lower peer preference scores than the intervention group did. Add itionally, the intervention group reported having fewer friends abusing one or more substances th an the control group did. This outcome appeared to be accounted for, at least partially, by hostile attributions held during grade 3. The intervention did appear to have positive effects on the re duction of parent's ha rsh physical discipline practices, on the improvement of children's social and academic competence at school, and on the improvement of social problem solving skil ls. Furthermore, processes targeted during the first three years of this intervention were found to predict outcomes during th e fourth year of this study (Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, 2002). Again, the FAST Track Prevention Program was not devised for use with relationally aggressive individuals. Additional Physical Aggre ssion Intervention P rograms A myriad of additional physical aggressi on intervention and prevention programs have been empirically validated, and are present within the physical aggression literature (The PeerCoping Skills training (Prinz, Blechman, & Dumas, 1994), Tools for Getting Along (Smith, Miller, & Daunic, 2002), the Incredible Year s Training Series (Webster-Stratton, 2000), ACHIEVE: A Collaborative School-based Reform Process (Knoff & Batsche, 1994), Bullying Prevention Program (Olweus, Limber, Mihalic, 1999) etc.). None of these programs have been empirically validated for use with relationally aggr essive individuals. The literature related to the prevention and intervention of relational a ggression is scarce to nonexistent. Relational aggression is governed by different processes than physical aggression. As such, the use of physical aggression programs to ameliorate relati onal aggression could prove to be detrimental. In order to inform relational aggression interventi on efforts, more data is needed regarding the correlates and contributing fact ors of relational aggression.

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40 Purpose of the Present Study The em pirical literature is quite informativ e concerning availability and efficacy of intervention programs designed to ameliorate physical aggression. Additionally, the negative sequelae associated with the perpetration a nd victimization of re lational aggression are highlighted in the literature. Unfortunately, re searchers provide few s uggestions regarding how to prevent or alter relation al aggression. Many of the intervention programs designed to ameliorate physical aggression have been used in hopes of also decreasi ng relational aggression. However, data are not availabl e to support the use of these programs for the intervention of relational aggression. Moreover, the goal of many physical aggr ession prevention/intervention programs is to increase perspective taking skills Use of the Resource Control Theory (Hawley, 2003) to explain relational aggression provide s support for the idea which states relational aggressors may be quite skilled at perspective taking skills. More spec ifically, the Resource Control Theory postulates that relational aggres sors may rely upon and utilize perspective taking skills in the perpetration of relational aggressi on. Prior to being able to develop relational aggression prevention and intervention programs, data must be provided regarding the correlates of relational aggression. Moreover, data are n eeded to inform how co rrelates of relational aggression differ from correlates of physical aggr ession. The first step to ameliorating relational aggression is accurate assessment and identifi cation. Inaccurate assessment or misinformation regarding predictors and correlates of relational aggression renders interv entions ineffective or even detrimental. Early assessment and identification are critical. Previous researchers have demonstrated rela tional aggression is rela ted to serious psychosocial adjustment and peer relation problems. Currently there are few empirically validated methods to prevent or interven e with relational a ggression, and none that address relational aggression in young children. Prevention and interven tion programs that have been suggested for

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41 use in early childhood programs are often language based programs that address perspective taking skills. Language ability has been linked to relational aggr ession; however, the specifics related to the types of language abilities that are linked to relational aggression in each gender have not been clearly replicated. Therefore, a ne ed to further investigat e the role language plays in relational aggression is present. Additionall y, the link of perspective taking to relational aggression has yet to be clearl y demonstrated, highlighting the need for future research to address this correlate. Although th e majority of studies assessi ng relational aggr ession in early childhood have found this type of aggression to be most common among females (Crick et al., 1997), McEvoy et al. (2003) found male preschooler s engaged in relational aggression more often than female preschoolers. These discrepant findings justify the furthe r investigation of the role gender plays in the pred iction of relational aggression. The current project assesses correlates of relational aggression in early childhood. Specifically, an examination of how correlates of relational aggression in early childhood differ from correlates of physical aggression is c onducted. The following research questions are addressed by the current study: 1) Is relational and physical aggres sion related in preschool children? 2) What is the relationship between relational aggression and the following predictor variables: gender, perspective taking skill s, and expressive language abilities? 3) What is the relationship between physic al aggression and the following predictor variables: gender, perspective taking skill s, and expressive language abilities? The Social Information Processing Model (S IPM) has been used to explain physically aggressive behavior by many researchers (Coi e & Cillessen, 1993; Dodge, Lansford, Salzer Burks, Bates, Pettit, Fontaine, & Price, 2003; Salzer Burks, Laird, & Dodge, 1999; WebsterStratton & Lindsay, 1999). In fact, most studies that link social information processing to the use

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42 of aggressive behavior directed towards peers focuses on physical aggres sion (Crick, Grotpeter, & Bigbee, 2002). However, Crick and colleague s (1995, 1999) have begun to demonstrate the usefulness of the SIPM in explaining relational aggression. The SIPM suggests that physically aggressi ve children lack pers pective taking skills when deciding upon a response to the actions of ot hers. The current study seeks to clarify how relationally aggressive preschoolers differ with regard to perspective taking skills and language when they are compared to non-relationally aggre ssive preschoolers and when they are compared to physically aggressive preschoolers. A dditionally, the current study hypothesizes that relationally aggressive children use their knowledge of how others may feel when engaging in the manipulation of social relationships. If da ta support this possibili ty, researchers who study aggression will be able to support the notion that the SIPM is used in a completely different manner by physical aggressors than by relationa l aggressors. Furthermore, this increased knowledge could lead to further development of models used to explain relational aggression. These improved models could, in turn, be able to be utilized to inform the development of relational aggression intervention and prevention programs.

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43 CHAPTER 2 METHODOLOGY Participants Participants included 103 childre n aged 4 years, 0 months to 5 years, 9 months from early childhood programs in Alachua County, Florida. Th e sample size was determined via the use of power analyses. A sample of more than 90 partic ipants was found to be ad equate to answer the proposed questions. English speaking children of all differing ability levels were invited to participate in this study. Any child who met the a bove mentioned criteria and attended one of the designated early childhood centers during the data collection phase of this project was invited to participate. Teachers of each of the partic ipating children also were aske d to participate in this study. For every 5 teacher rating scales a teacher co mpleted, the teacher was provided with a $10 Target gift card to be used for classroom supp lies as compensation and incentive for participating in this study. Procedure After IRB approval was obtained, the direct ors of various early childhood programs in Alachua County were approached and asked if they would allow for doctoral dissertation data to be collected at their sites. When the directors of the programs agreed to allow for data collection to occur at their site, teachers of 4and 5year-old children we re asked to participate in this study. Teachers were informed that they would be asked to complete a 25-item rating scale for each participating child. Moreover, teachers were informed of the $10 Target gift cards they would receive as compensation and incentive for th eir participation. Next, teachers who agreed to participate in this study we re asked to help recruit and obt ain parental permission from the parents of the students in their classrooms.

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44 After teacher agreement for participation and parental permission had been obtained, demographic information for each child included in this project was collected. Specifically, information regarding the language spoken in the home and the age of th e child was collected. Additionally, data related to classroom climate wa s obtained. Particularly information regarding the number of students in each classroom, the num ber of teachers in each classroom, and the average number of classroom discipline referra ls per year was obtained. Then, information regarding the climate of the early childhood centers was obtai ned. Specifically, information regarding the accreditation status of the centers, the average number of discipline referrals per center per year, and the number of students receiving subsidi zed child care services was gathered. Next, classroom teachers were asked to fill out the Pres chool Social Behavior ScaleTeacher Form (PSBS-T) for each child partic ipating in the study (Crick et al., 1997). The expressive language abilities of each pa rticipant was assessed using the Expressive Vocabulary Test (EVT) (Williams, 1997), and th e Early Childhood Social Cognitions Interview (ECSCI) was used to reliably measure each participating childs level of pe rspective taking skills (Smith, Jones, & Wojtalewicz, 2001 in Wojtalewi cz, 2004). Additional questions regarding the relational aggression perspective taking skill s of each participating child were asked. Specifically, children were asked following quest ions: 1) Megan wanted a doll Rachel was playing with. Megan told R achel that she would not be invited to the birthday party if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll. How do you think Rachel will feel? and 2) Chad was playing with the blocks at school today. Jo e was painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play with the blocks too. So, Chad told Joe that he would not be Joe s friend if Joe did not pl ay with the blocks too. How do you think Joe will feel?

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45 Measures Teacher ratings of relational aggression, teache r ratings of physical aggression, expressive language ab ility, and perspective taking skills were assessed for each participant. The measures which were utilized are described below. Preschool Social Behavior ScaleTeacher Form The PSBS-T is a teacher rating scale utilized with teachers of 3-years-old to 5-years-old students. This scale consists of 25 items divided in to 4 scales (i.e., the relational aggression scale, overt/physical aggression scale; prosocial behavior scale; and depressed a ffect scale). Six of the total items reliably assess relational aggre ssion; another 6 reliabl y assess overt, physical aggression; 4 reliably asses prosocial behavior, and 3 reli ably assess depressed affect (Chronbachs = .87-.96) (Crick et al., 1997; Crick, Ostrov, Appleyard, Janeson, & Casas, 2004). This 5-point Likert rating scale was simple to administer. For example, teachers were given a copy of the PSBS-T for each child included in the study. Teachers rated each childs behavior on a 5-point scale rangi ng from never or almost never true for this child to always or almost always true for this child. Items included statements such as: This child threatens not to be friends with a peer if the peer does not enga ge in this childs pref erred activity. Moreover, scoring was not complicated. For each of the 4 scal es (i.e., relational aggr ession; overt, physical aggression; prosocial behavior; de pressed affect) the rankings for each item included as part of that scale was added together. The sum of rankings was utilized as the score for that scale. Expressive Vocabulary Test The Express ive Vocabulary Test (EVT) was util ized to quickly and accurately assess the expressive language ability of each participant. The EVT is a reliable and valid individually administered, norm-referenced assessment of ex pressive vocabulary and word retrieval. Two sections are contained in the EVT: a section devoted to word identification, and a section

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46 devoted to the use of synonyms. Evidence of relia bility and validity is presented in the EVT examiners manual. For example, split-half reliabilities range from .83 to .97, test-retest reliabilities range from .77 to .90, and reliabi lity alphas range from .90-.98. Moreover, evidence of criterion-related validity is presented in the EVT manual. For example, EVT scores moderately correlate with scores from the Or al Expression section of the Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS) (r=.60 for children ages 4 to 8 and r=.86 for children ages 10 to 13). The EVT also moderately correlates to the Verb al Intelligence Quotient of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for ChildrenThird Edition (WISC-III) (r=.72) (Williams, 1997). Each child was administered the EVT by the pr incipal investigator or a trained advanced doctoral school psychology stude nt specializing in early childhood. Scoring procedures explained in the EVT manual were followed. Ch ildren were given 1 point for each correct response. Raw EVT scores controlling age were used as a measure of expressive language ability. Early Childhood Social Cognitions The Early Childhood Social Cognitions Intervie w (ECSCI) was used to reliably measure childrens level of persp ective taking (Chronbachs = .80). The ECSCI is a semi-structured questionnaire designed to assess ch ildrens social cognitions related to the following areas: 1) the childs emotional knowledge (i.e., ability to dete rmine the emotional state of another); 2) the childs ability to assume the perspective of anot her; and 3) the childs ability to use problem solving in social situa tions (Smith, Jones, & Wojtalewicz, 2001 in Wojtalewicz, 2004). Evidence of construct-related validity and content-related validity has been demonstrated (Wojtalewicz, 2004). (See Appendix E). Each child was administered the ECSCI by the pr incipal investigator or a trained advanced doctoral school psychology student specializing in early chil dhood. The ECSCI used pictures

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47 (males and females of varying ethnicities) to guid e the interview process. Participants were asked to identify the emotions/feelings of individuals depicted in the pi ctures. Next participants were asked to identify what about the individuals face or body made the child participant think the child was feeling the identified em otion. Participants then listen ed to a story about a boy who was upset when he got to school. The boy in the story then received a hug from his teacher and felt better. Participants were asked to label the boys initial feeling, provide a reason why he may have felt that way, label his f eeling at the end of the story, and provide a reason why he may have felt that way. The participants were shown a picture of a boy and a pict ure of a girl and told the following story: Jessica love s clowns, but Tyler is afraid of them. Their teacher tells them that their class will be going to th e circus and that there will be lots of clowns there. Participants were then asked to explain how Jessica would f eel, how Tyler would feel, and how Jessica could help Tyler feel better. Finally, participants were show a pict ure of 2 children (matching the gender of the participant) and a toy ball. Each of the children in the picture were given a name (Tyler and Matt if boys, Jessica an d Amy if girls). The children were told the following story: ______(child A) has been playing with this ba ll for a long time and ___(child B) wants a chance to get to play with it. But ____(child A) keeps on playing with it. What can ____(child B) do so s/he can have a chance to play with it? After children provided an initial answer, they were encouraged to think of as many ways as possible child B c ould use to get a chance to play with the ball. Participants verbatim responses were written down by the examiner. Responses were then entered into an excel spreadsheet to be scored. Participants responses we re scored according to the following criteria: Part A: Determining th e Emotional State of Another (a) one point was given for each correctly identified emotion in the Emotion Identification section of the ECSCI;

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48 no points were given for incorrectly identified emotions (b) two points were given for every correctly identified physical attribute as a cue fo r emotion identification (teeth are showing would earn 2 points if a child is describing a happy face); one point was earned if the child only stated a reason for the emotion (sh e gets to play outside with he r friend would earn 1 point if given as a reason the person in the picture is happy) (c) if the participant identified that Juan felt angry or sad when he got to school the particip ant earned a point (d) if the participant gave a logical reason whey Juan felt angry or sad when he got to school (it was his first day at a new school and he was scared) the participant earned a point (e) if the particip ant identified that Juan felt better after his teacher gave him a hug the pa rticipant earned a point (f) if the participant identified a logical reason why Juan felt better (his teacher gave hi m a hug) the participant earned a point. Part B: Persp ective Taking (a) the participant ea rned a point if the participant identified a positive emotion for Jessica (b) the participant earned a point if the participant identified a negative emotion for Tyler (c) the participant earned a point for each identified positive way that Jessica could help Tyler feel bett er. Part C: Problem Solving (a) the participant earned a point for each answer (positive or negative) that explained what child B could do to get a chance to play with the toy child A had. Inter-rater reliability was determined by having an additional rater (i.e ., a rater other than the primary investigator) independently score 50% (n=52) of the transcribed answers. Raters agreed upon the vast majority of ratings. The to tal number of agreements was divided by the total number of agreements plus the total number of disagreements (i.e. total agreements/total agreements + total disagreements). Using this form ula, inter-rater reliability was calculated to be 98% (i.e. 51/(51+1)=.98). Disagreement occurred on one participants ra tings. The two raters worked together to come to a consensus on what th e appropriate rating should be for this item.

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49 Relational Aggression Persp ective Taking Qu estionnaire Relational aggression perspective taking skills were preliminarily assessed using the following two questions: 1) Megan wanted a doll Rachel was playing with. Megan told Rachel that she would not be inv ited to the birthday party if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll. How do you think Rachel will feel? and 2) Chad was playing with the blocks at school today. Joe was painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play w ith the blocks too. So, Chad told Joe that he would not be Joes friend if Joe did not play with the blocks too. How do you think Joe will feel? Evidence of content-related validity is pr esent in each of these questions. Additionally, evidence of preliminary reliab ility is present (Chronbachs = .59). Participants answers were reco rded verbatim. Then answers were sorted according to the information provided. Participants provided the following answers: mad, happy, sad, mad and sad, not happy, happy and sad, and I dont know. Research Questions and Data Analysis The following research questions guided the proposed study: 1) Is relational and physical aggres sion related in preschool children? 2) What is the relationship between relational aggression and the following predictor variables: gender, perspective-taking skill s, and expressive language abilities? 3) What is the relationship between physic al aggression and the following predictor variables: gender, perspective-taking skill s, and expressive language abilities? Variables were entered into SPSS and descri ptive statistics were calculated for age, gender, EVT raw scores, relationa l aggression raw scores as m easured by the PSBS-T, physical aggression raw scores as measured by the PSBS-T, perspective-taking raw scores as measured by the ECSCI, relational aggression perspective ta king ability, number of students per classroom, number of teachers per classroom, number of center discipline referrals per year, and number of

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50 children per center receiving s ubsidized child care. Group differences were examined using ANOVAs. The relationships between EVT raw scores relational aggression raw scores, physical aggression raw scores and ECSCI raw scores we re calculated using Pearson product-moment correlations. Gender was treated as a categorical variable. Therefore, point biseri al correlations were conducted to determine the relationships betw een gender, relational aggression raw scores, physical aggression raw scores, EVT ra w scores, and ECSCI raw scores. Full and reduced multiple regression models were analyzed to assess whether gender, EVT scores, and ECSCI raw scores predict higher levels of relational aggression. Models to be tested were determined based upon a priori hyp otheses and correlation matrices. The following reduced models based upon a priori hypotheses we re tested: (a) relati onal aggression as a DV and ECSCI raw scores as an IV, (b) physical a ggression as a DV and ECSCI scores as an IV, (c) relational aggression as a DV and EVT scores as an IV, and (d) physical aggression as a DV and EVT scores as an IV. The following full m odels based upon findings from the correlation matrices were tested using step-wise regressi on: relational aggression as a DV and number of children per site, number of students in classroom, and number of a dults in classroom as IVs. Furthermore, because physical aggression wa s found to be highly correlated with male gender, and because prosocial skills were found to be highly correlated with female gender, categorical stepwise regression analyses were co nducted using SPSS. Cate gorical regression is a type of regression analysis that can be uti lized when the independent variables include a combination of nominal, ordinal and/or interval data. The following models were tested using categorical stepwise regression analyses: (a) physical aggression as a DV and age, gender,

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51 number of adults in classroom, and EVT scores as IVs, (b) prosocial score from PSBS-T as a DV and gender, age and school site as IVs, (c) physical aggression as a DV and age, gender, EVT score, ECSCI score, and number of adults in classroom as IVs. Step-wise regression was determined to be acceptable due to the exploratory nature of this study. Relying on data from mo dels identified using stepwise re gression is risky because this method of data analysis capitalizes on chance. However, because stepwise regression was only used in an exploratory nature, and as a result of data reduction, it could be considered acceptable in this circumstance (Agresti & Finlay, 1999). One-way ANOVAs were conducted to assess how the relational aggression perspective taking skills relate to the re lational aggression PSBS-T scor es, physical aggression PSBS-T scores, prosocial PSBS-T scores, EVT scores and ESCSI scores.

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52 CHAPTER 3 RESULTS The purpose of this study was to investigat e how correlates of relational aggression in early childhood differ from corre lates of physical aggression. Sp ecifically, the current study sought to clarify how relationally aggressive preschoolers differ with regard to gender, perspective-taking skills, and language when compared to non-relationally aggressive preschoolers and when compared to phys ically aggressive preschoolers. This chapter begins with an overview of desc riptive statistics related to participant and site characteristics. Next, correlations between EVT raw scores, relationa l aggression raw scores, physical aggression raw scores ECSCI raw scores, and gende r are presented. Results of regression analyses used to test the main hypotheses and hypotheses based upon data reduction are presented. Subsequently, resu lts of ANOVA analyses used to test the main hypotheses and hypotheses based upon data reduction are presented. A summary of major findings and the implications of these findings are discussed in chapter 4. Descriptive Statistics Participant Characteristics The 103 child participants were evenly dist ributed for gender (female n= 51, male n=52). Eighty-two percent were in a 4and 5-year-old preschool class at an early childhood center or elementary school; 8% were in a 3and 4-year-o ld preschool class at an early childhood center; and 10% attended kindergarten at an elementary school. See Table 3-1 for descriptive statistics of participant characteris tics. As is discussed in the followi ng section, participants did not differ on any important setting or envi ronmental characteristics.

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53 Class Characteristics Sixty-four percent of par ticipants attended a class whic h utilized the Second Step Violence Prevention (Second Step) curriculum. This curriculum teaches emotion identification, emotional regulation, and problem solving skil ls. The ECSCI was developed to assess the effectiveness of the Second Step program. Therefor e, utilization of Second Step in the majority of the current sample may confound results of this study based upon the ECSCI data. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicates th at EVT varies according to class type (F=15.62, p=.000), with children in kindergarten classes having better ex pressive language abilities than children in presc hool and pre-kindergarten classes. When analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to control for the effect of age on EVT scores, no EVT score differences were found among the types of classrooms included in this study (F=.710, p=.494). This finding is consistent with developmental theory and literature. An ANOVA also indicated that prosocial skills vary according to class type (F=4.47, p=.04); however when an ANCOVA was run to contro l for the effect of age, no differences were found among each of the class types (F= .357, p=.700) Again, childrens prosocial skills evolve as they get older. Therefore, it is not surprising that kindergarten children e xhibit more prosocial behaviors than preschool children. ANOVAs were also conducted to see if other variables of interest varied according to class type. ECSCI scores, PSBS-T relational a ggression scores, and PSB S-T physical aggression scores did not vary according to class type. See table 3-2. Site Characteristics Seventeen percent of participan ts attended preschool at site A, 12% attended preschool at site B, 24% attended preschool at site C, 13% attended pres chool at site D, 26% attended preschool or kindergarten at site E, and 8% atte nded preschool at site F. Each site had a

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54 minimum of 2 teachers completing PSBS-Ts. Site A had 4 teachers completing PSBS-Ts, site B had 2 teachers completing PSBS-Ts, site C had 7 teachers completing PSBS-Ts, site D had 2 teachers completing PSBS-Ts, site E had 4 t eachers completing PSBS-Ts, and site F had 3 teachers completing PSBS-Ts. Analyses of variances (ANOVAs) indicated that schools differed significantly with regard to mean teacher-rated physical aggression (F=2.92, p=.017) and mean teacher-rated prosocial skills (F=2.99, p=0.15). Po st-hoc univariate analyses i ndicated only one site differed significantly from the others. Specifi cally, site C differed significantl y from site E with regard to physical aggression (p=.004) and di ffered significantly from site F with regard to childrens prosocial skills (p=.031). No other significant differences between or among sites were found. See table 3-3 for additional site and cla ss characteristics descriptive statistics. Data Reduction Pearson product-moment correlations were used to examine the relationships between EVT scores, relational aggression scores, physical aggression sc ores, prosocial scores, ECSCI scores, number of adults in classroom, number of students in classroom, and age. Gender was treated as a categorical variable. Therefore, point biserial correlations were conducted to determine the relationships between gender, relational aggression raw scores, physical aggression raw scores, prosocial scores, EVT scores, ECSCI scores, number of adults in classroom, number of students in classroom, and age. The number of adults in each class signifi cantly correlated with physical aggression (r=.266, p=.007) and relational aggression (r=. 222, p=.024), as measured by the PSBS-T. Specifically, as the number of adults in clas srooms increased, the amount of teacher rated physical and relational aggression increased. The number of stude nts in each classroom (i.e. students enrolled in each class) also significantly correlated with teacher-rated physical

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55 aggression scores (r=.240, p=.01) and with te acher-rated relational aggression scores, as measured by the PSBS-T. (r=.241, p=.01). As the numb er of students in each class increased, so did the amount of physical and relational aggres sion. Additionally, the number of children at each site (i.e. children enrolled in each site) significantly correlated with physical aggression PSBS-T scores (r=.206, p=.036) and with relational aggression PSBS-T scores (r=.263, p=.007). Again as the number of children enrolled at each site increased, the am ount of teacher rated physical and relational aggression al so increased. Finally, a sites use of Second Step correlated with ECSCI scores (r=.310, p=.001), with sites who implemented the Second Step curriculum having students who scored higher on the ECSC I, as would be expected. Table 3-4 depicts correlations that were found among major independent and dependent variables of interest. Table 3-4 illustrates that physical aggression and male gender were significantly correlated (r=.373, p=.000). Conversely, gender and re lational aggression did not significantly correlate. However, prosocial behavior was found to have a significant relationship to gender, with female participants pr osocial behavior rated more highly (r=-.286, p=.003). Additionally, EVT scores and physical aggressi on were significantly correlated (r=-.229, p=.020). Specifically, individuals who scored low on the EVT tende d to exhibit more physical aggression. A significant correlation between expressive langua ge skills and relational aggression was not found. However, relationally aggr essive children were found to exhibit less well-developed prosocial behavior s (r=-.529, p=.000). Data reduction findings were used to identify variables to include in regression models. Based upon findings from data reduction, stepwise multiple regression and stepwise categorical regression models were tested. Sp ecifically, the following models we re tested as a result of data reduction: (a) relational aggressi on as a DV and number of childre n per site, number of students

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56 in classroom, and number of adults in classroom as IVs, (b) physical aggression as a DV and age, gender, number of adults in cla ssroom, and EVT scores as IVs, (c) prosocial score from PSBS-T as a DV and gender, age and school site as IVs, (d) physical aggression as a DV and age, gender, EVT score, ECSCI score, and number of adults in classroom as IVs. Relying on data from models identified using stepwise regression is risky because this method of data analysis capitalizes on chance; however, because stepwise regression was used in an exploratory manner as a result of data reduction, it could be consid ered acceptable in this circumstance (Agresti & Finlay, 1999). Statistical Assumptions Based upon visual inspection of probability plots, the assumptions of conditional normality, linearity, and homoscedacity were met for each independent variable. Therefore the use of multiple regression and analysis of variance was deemed appropriate. Multiple Regression Analyses Full and red uced models were analyzed to assess whether gender, EVT scores, and ECSCI scores predict higher levels of relational and physical aggression. Hypothesis 1: Perspective-Taking Ability and Relational Aggression The first hypothesis stated that relationally aggressive young children would have better developed perspective-taking skills, as measured by the ECSCI, than non-relationally aggressive children. Support for this hypothesis was not found ( =.063, t=.632, p=.529). As mentioned previously, the Second Step Violence Preventi on Curriculum was taught to the majority of participants. The ECSCI was originally developed to assess the efficacy of this prevention program. As such, it is likely that the findings are misleading. Future studies should further explore the role perspective-taking plays in fostering relational aggr ession. See Table 3-5.

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57 Hypothesis 2: Perspective-Taking Ability and Physical Aggression The next hypothesis stated that physically aggressive ch ildren would have less welldeveloped perspective-taking skills, as measured by the ECSCI. Support fo r this hypothesis also was not found ( =-.056, t=-.567, p=.572). Again, the use of the Second Step Curriculum may confound these results. See Table 3-6. Hypothesis 3: Expressive Language Skills and Relational Aggression Hypothesis 3 stated that relationally a ggressive young children would have better developed expressive-language skills, as measur ed by the EVT. Support for this hypothesis was not found ( =.108, t=1.096, p=.276) when other variables were not held constant. See Table 3-7. Hypothesis 4: Expressive Language Skills and Physical Aggression The next hypothesis stated physically aggres sive children would have poorer expressivelanguage abilities, as measured by the EV T. Support for this hypothesis was found ( =-.229, t=2.359, F=5.565, p=.020). In other words, in this sa mple, when other variables are not held constant, it appears that expre ssive language ability is linked to perpetration of physical aggression. See Table 3-8. Regression Analyses Based on Data Reduction Stepwise regression was util ized to explore how correlate s of relational aggression may differ from correlates of physical aggression. Stepwise regression was deemed an acceptable method of data analysis because of the explorator y nature of this study and because the variables could be ranked based on research with olde r children and developmental theory. However, because stepwise regression capitalizes on chance (Agresti & Finlay, 1999), results should be interpreted with caution. Independe nt variables to be included in the utilization of stepwise regression data analysis were determined base d upon theory, previous research findings, and correlations found during the data re duction stage of data analysis.

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58 Physical aggression Models designed to explain the variance of physical aggression included age, gender, EVT scores, ECSCI scores, and number of adults in the classroom as independent variables and physical aggression as the depende nt variable. Categorical step wise regression was used to analyze these models because categorical regressi on allows for the independent variables to be nominal, ordinal, and/or in terval data. Three models were found to fit the data. First model The first m odel only included gender ( =.373, t=4.038, p=.00) as a significant predictor of physical aggression (F=16.308, p=.00). Male gender accounted for a significant amount of the variance in physical aggression. Second model When gender was held constant, the num ber of adults in the classroom ( =.259, t=2.901, p=.00) accounted for a significant amount of th e variance in physical aggression scores (F=12.961, p=.00). When there were more adults in the classroom the rate of teacher-rated physical aggression increased. Third model When gender and num ber of adults in the cl assroom were held constant, EVT scores ( =.222, t=-2.556, p=.01) accounted for a significant amount of the variance in physical aggression scores (F=11.296, p=.00). In other words, when gender and the number of adults in the classroom were held constant, having lower expressive language abilities accounted for a significant amount of the variance in physical aggression. See table 3-9. Relational aggression Models designed to explain the variance of relational aggression included EVT scores, ECSCI scores, num ber of adults in the classroom, number of children in the classroom, number

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59 of students at the site, and PSB S-T prosocial scores as indepe ndent variables and relational aggression as the dependent variable. Again, step wise regression was considered an appropriate methodology to employ because of the exploratory nature of the question being answered (what correlates are linked to relationa l aggression in young children). Two models were found to fit the data. The regression analyses which were ru n for relational aggression did not parallel the regression analyses which were r un for physical aggression because the analyses for each of the separate types of aggression were decided ba sed upon results obtained during data reduction. First model The first m odel found prosocial behavior ( =-.529, t=-6.271, p=.00) accounted for a significant amount of the vari ance in relational aggression scores (F=39.326, p=.00). As prosocial behavior increased, the amount of relational aggression decreased. Second model The next m odel held prosoc ial behavior constant ( =-.568, t=-6.786, p=.00) and found EVT scores ( =.211, t=2.524, p=.01) accounted for a significant amount of the variance in relational aggression scores (F =23.893, p=.00). This model is c onsistent with theory and previous research which postula tes that young children who are relationally aggressive often have better developed expre ssive-language ability (Bonica et al., 2003). When both age and prosocial behavior scores on the PSBS-T were held constant, EVT scores significantly accounted for the variance in relational aggression scor es on the PSBS-T (F=15.774, p=.00). See table 310. Prosocial behavior Models designed to explain the variance of prosocial behavior scores included prosocial behavior scores as a dependent variable and sex, age, and early childhood program as independent variables. Categorical stepwise regr ession was used to analyze these models because

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60 categorical regression allows for th e independent variables to be nom inal, ordinal, and/or interval data. Two models were found to fit the data. First model The first m odel included only gender ( =-.286, t=3.003, p=.00) as a si gnificant predictor of prosocial behavior (F=9.017, p=.00). Female gend er accounted for a significant amount of the variance in prosocial behavior. Second model The next m odel found when gender was held constant, the particip ants early childhood program accounted for a significant amount of th e variance in prosocia l behavior (F=8.34, p=.00). See table 3-11. Analysis of Variance One hypothesis of this study postulated that relationally aggressive young children have well-dev eloped perspective taking skills. When the ECSCI was used as a measure of perspectivetaking ability, findings were not significant. As mentioned previously, the majority of sites included in this study utilize the Second Step Vi olence Prevention Curriculum. The use of this program may confound the results of this study with regard to the use of the ECSCI as a measure of perspective-taking. Therefore, additional relational aggression perspective-taking questions were asked of each participant. Specifically, participants were read the following scenarios and asked the following questions: (a) Chad was play ing with the blocks at school today. Joe was painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play with the blocks too. So, Chad told Joe he would not be Joes friend is Joe didnt play with the bloc ks too. How do you think Joe will feel? and (b) Megan wanted a doll Rachel was playing with. Megan told Rachel that she would not be invited to the birthday party if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll. How do you think Rachel will feel? Oneway-analysis of variance (ANOVAs) was utilized to assess the relational-

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61 aggression perspective taking skills of relationally aggressive young children as compared to children who are not relationally aggressive and to assess the relational aggression perspective taking skills of physically aggres sive children when compared to children who are not physically aggressive. Hypothesis 1: Perspective-Taking Ability and Relational Aggression Two one-way ANOVAs were used to assess the relational aggression perspective-taking abilities of relationally aggressive children, as compared to children who are not relationally aggressive. Relational aggression as measured by the PSBS-T was the dependent, continuous variable. Children were asked tw o questions related to how vi ctims of relational aggression would feel as a result of th eir victimization. Child res ponses included the following: mad, sad, happy, not happy, mad and sad, happy and sad, and I dont know Children were read the following scenarios and asked the following questi ons: (a) Chad was playing with the blocks at school today. Joe was painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play with the blocks too. So, Chad told Joe he would not be Joes friend is Joe didnt play with the blocks too. How do you think Joe will feel? and (b) Megan wanted a doll Rachel was playing with. Megan told Rachel that she would not be invited to the birt hday party if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll. How do you think Rachel will feel? Scenario A: How do you think Joe will feel Relation al aggression perspective taking ability with regard to the first scenario (i.e., Chad was playing with the blocks at school today. Joe was pain ting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play with the blocks too. So, Ch ad told Joe he would not be Joes friend is Joe didnt play with the blocks too. How do you think Joe will f eel?) was examined us ing an oneway ANOVA. Results approached but did not reach signifi cance (F=1.872, p=.09), highlighting the need for future studies with larger samples to further examine the relational aggression perspective taking

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62 abilities of relational aggressors. Post hoc analyses were unable to be performed because 2 or fewer participants were present in two of the groups. Relational aggression scores on the PSBS-T were then utilized to identify participants who are excessively relationally aggressive. A score of 18 on the relational aggres sion section of the PSBS-T was used as a cut-off for inclusion in the excessively relationally aggressive group. Eighteen was used as a cutoff score because th ere were 6 relational aggression questions. The PSBS-T is a Likert-Scale where a rating of 3 indi cates that the behavior occurs sometimes, a rating of 4 indicates the behavior occurs often, a nd a rating of 5 indicates the behavior always or almost always occurs. As such, a total score of 18 would indicate that the participant frequently engaged in relational aggression. Of the 14 participants who were identified as excessively relati onally aggressive 86% said the victim in scenario A would feel sad, 7% said the victim would feel not happy, and 7% said the victim would feel mad and sad. Of the 89 participants who were not identified as relationally aggressive 75% said the vict im in scenario A would feel sad. Scenario B: How do you think Rachel will feel Perspective -taking ability with regard to th e second scenario (i.e. Megan wanted a doll Rachel was playing with. Megan to ld Rachel that she would not be invited to the birthday party if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll. How do you think R achel will feel?) was analyzed using an oneway ANOVA. Results were significant (F=2.225, p=.04), suggesting that relational aggressors understand how their victimization will make ot hers feel. Post hoc analyses were unable to be performed because 2 or fewer part icipants were present in two of the groups. Of the 14 participants who were identified as excessively relati onally aggressive 93% said the victim in scenario B would feel sad and 7% said the victim would feel not happy, indicating that perpetra tors of relational aggression are able to understand how relationally

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63 aggressive acts will make others feel. Of the 89 participants who were not identified as relationally aggressive, 78% said th e victim in scenario B would f eel sad, indicating that some non-relationally aggressive indivi duals also are able understand how relationally aggressive acts will make others feel. Hypothesis 5: Relational Aggression Perspect ive Taking Ability and ECSCI One way ANOVAs were then utilized to ex amine if individuals w ho scored higher on the ECSCI would be better able to take the perspect ive of relational victims than those who scored lower. Individuals who scored higher on th e ECSCI performed bette r on each relational aggression perspective-taking question (F= 2.33, p=.04 for scenario 1, and F=3.165, p=.01 for scenario 2). Follow-up univariate tests rega rding the 3 components of the ECSCI (i.e., determining the emotional state of another, taking the persp ective of another, and problem solving) indicated that, with regard to scenario A (i.e. Chad was playi ng with the blocks at school today. Joe was painting. But, Chad wanted Joe to play with the blocks too. So, Chad told Joe he would not be Joes friend is Joe didnt play with the blocks too. How do you think Joe will feel?), individuals who appropriately answer ed the relational aggression perspective taking question about Joe (i.e., answered sad) also scored higher on portion of the ECSCI concerned with taking the perspective of another (F=2.445, p=.03). Furthermore, follow-up univariate tests regarding the 3 components of the ECSCI indicated that, with regard to scenario B (i.e. Megan wanted a doll Rachel was playing with. Megan told Rachel that she would not be invited to the birthday party if Rachel did not let Megan play with the doll How do you think Rachel will feel?), individuals who appropr iately answered the relationa l aggression perspective taking question about Rachel also scored higher on the portion of the ECSCI concerned with determining the emotional state of another (F=3.302, p=.01). Thes e results again highlight the

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64 need to further examine what perspective taking ab ilities differ in relationally aggressive children when compared to their non-aggressive peers. See Tables 3-12 and 3-13. Summary This study examined how correlates of re lational aggression in young children differ from correlates of physical aggression in young children. The following hypotheses were tested: (a) relational and physical aggression in young child ren is related, (b) females engage in more relational aggression, (c) males engage in more physical a ggression, (d) better-developed expressive language abilities will account for a significant amount of the variance in relational aggression scores, (e) less well-developed expressive language abilities will account for a significant amount of the varian ce in physical aggression scores (f) children who are more relationally aggressive will be more skilled at perspective-taking than children who are more physically aggressive. Pearson product-moment correlations indica ted that physical and relation aggression is significantly related. Females were not found to be more relationally aggressive than males; however, males were found to be more physically aggressive than females. When prosocial behavior scores is held constant, better developed expressive language abilities account for a significant amount of the variance in relational aggression scores. Conversely, less-well developed expressive langua ge abilities accounts fo r a significant amount of the variance in physical aggression scores. Perspective taking skills as measured by the ECSCI were not found to account for a significant amount of the varian ce in relational or physical ag gression scores. The ECSCI was developed to assess the efficacy of the Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum. Because the majority of sites included in this study were utilizing the Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum, findings based upon ECSCI scores ma y be misleading. However, when perspective

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65 taking skills related to relational aggression sc enarios were assessed relational aggressors did appear to have well-developed relational aggression perspective-taking skills.

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66 Table 3-1 Descriptive statistics of child characteristics Variable MinimumMaximumMean Std. Dev. EVT raw score 377554.44 10.32 ECSCI total raw score 24520.63 7.83 PSBS-T Relational Aggression 62511.6 5.06 PSBS-T Physical Aggression 5238.35 3.71 PSBS-T Prosocial Skills 82015.59 3.05 Table 3-2 ANOVAs for kindergarte n versus non-kindergarten classes Variable F p ECSCI Total .520 .473 EVT 15.620 .000 PSBS-T Relational Aggression 1.110 .295 PSBS-T Physical Aggression 2.806 .097 PSBS-T Prosocial Skills 4.471 .037 Table 3-3 Descriptive statistics of class and site characteristics Variable Min Max Mean Std. Dev. Number of students per class 12 46 24.24 12.85 Number of adults per class 2 7 3.02 2.02 Number of site discipline referrals per year 0 130 22.58 42.23 Number of children at site 88 131 108.15 16.40 Number of children per site receiving s ubsidized childcare 0 16 3.25 4.93 Table 3-4 Pearson product-moment correla tions and point-biserial correlations EVT ECSCI Relational Aggression Physical Aggression Prosocial Skills Age Gender EVT 1.000 .424** .108 -.229* .181 .470** -.058 ECSCI 1.000 .063 -.056 .030 .089 -.089 Relational Aggression 1.000 .488** -.529** -.037 -.001 Physical Aggression 1.000 -.531** -.259** .373** Prosocial Skills 1.000 .228* -.286** Age 1.000 -.021 Gender 1.000 *indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significan t at the .01 level

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67 Table 3-5 Summary of regression analysis fo r perspective taking a nd relational aggression Variable BSE B t P ECSCI score .041.064.063 .632 .529 *indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significan t at the .01 level Table 3-6 Summary of regression analysis fo r perspective-taking and physical aggression Variable BSE B t P ECSCI score -.027.047-.056 -.567 .572 *indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significan t at the .01 level Table 3-7 Summary of regression analysis for expressive language and relational aggression Variable BSE B t P EVT score .053.049.108 1.096 .276 *indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significan t at the .01 level Table 3-8 Summary of regression analysis for expressive language and physical aggression Variable BSE B t P EVT score -.082.035-.229 -2.359 .02* *indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significan t at the .01 level Table 3-9 Summary of regression analysis for correlates of physical aggression Variable B SE B t P Sex 2.617 .641 .355 4.081** .000 Number of adults in classroom .496 .159 .271 3.116** .002 EVT -.080 .031 -.222 -2.556** .010 *indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significan t at the .01 level Table 3-10 Summary of regres sion analysis for correlates of relational aggression Variable B SE B t P Prosocial behavior -.941 .139 -.568 -6.786** .000 EVT .104 .041 .211 2.524** .010 *indicates significant at the .05 level,** indicates significant at the .01 level

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68 Table 3-11 Summary of regres sion analysis for correlates of prosocial behavior Variable B SE B t P Sex -1.680 .563 -.276 -2.984** .004 Early childhood program .479 .179 .247 2.668** .009 *indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significan t at the .01 level Table 3-12 Summary of oneway ANOVA a nd univariate tests scenario A Variable df F P ECSCI 6 2.33* .038 Emotional Identification 6 2.062 .065 Perspective Taking 6 2.445* .030 Problem Solving 6 1.543 .173 *indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significan t at the .01 level Table 3-13 Summary of oneway ANOVA a nd univariate tests scenario B Variable dfF P ECSCI 63.165**.007 Emotional Identification 63.302**.005 Perspective Taking 61.341 .247 Problem Solving 61.438 .208 *indicates significant at the .05 level, ** indicates significan t at the .01 level

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69 CHAPTER 4 DISCUSSION This study exam ined physical and relati onal aggression in young children. Possible correlates of physical and relati onal aggression were explored; a nd, how correlates of relational aggression in early childhood differ from correlate s of physical aggression in early childhood was investigated. The following research questions guided the current study: 1) Is relational and physical ag gression related in young children? 2) What is the relationship between relational aggression and the following predictor variables: gender, perspective taking skill s, and expressive language abilities? 3) What is the relationship between physic al aggression and the following predictor variables: gender, perspective taking skill s, and expressive language abilities? Research Question 1 The first guiding research question asked wh ether physical and rela tional aggression are related in young children. Previous studies have demonstrated some correlates of physical and relational aggression differ (Boni ca et al., 2003; Estrem, 2005), ye t few studies speak directly about the correlation of physical and relationa l aggression in young child ren. Studies examining aggression in older children and adolescents have found physical aggressors are more commonly males and relational aggressors are more commonly female; however, the direct relationship of physical aggression to relational aggression in older children is rarely discussed (McNeillyChoque et al., 1996; Roecker Phelps, 2001). McEvoy and colleagues found that preschool males were more likely than preschool females to be either relationally aggressive or physically aggressive; however, the direct relationship of relational aggres sion to physical aggression was not examined. Crick et al. (2006) found that preschool females were more likely to be relationally aggressive than preschool males, and that preschool males were more likel y to be physically aggressive than preschool

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70 females. Additionally, Crick et al. (2006) demonstrated that aggressive preschoolers can be categorized into groups of only re lationally aggressive preschooler s, only physically aggressive preschoolers, and both relationally and physically aggressive preschoolers. In the current study relational aggression a nd physical aggression we re associated with one another. Specifically, individuals who were relationally aggressi ve were likely to also be physically aggressive, and individu als who were physically aggressi ve were likely to also be relationally aggressive. As was demonstrated by Crick et al. (2006), individuals who were only relationally aggressive (i.e., rela tionally aggressive children who were not physically aggressive) and individuals who were only phys ically aggressive (i.e., physic ally aggressive children who were not relationally aggressive) also were found. Possible explanations for why the current study found that as relational aggression increases so does physical aggression include the following: (1) th e relationship between physical and relational aggression could be due to shared varian ce, and (2) highly relationally aggressive children may utilize physical aggression at times, but not as frequently as relational aggression and highly physically aggressive chil dren may utilize relational aggression at times, but not as frequently as physical aggression. The first possibility suggests that the relationship between phy sical and relational aggression could be due to shar ed variance. Specifically, re lational aggression and physical aggression were assessed using the same instru ment, the PSBS-T. Each participant had his/her classroom teacher complete the PSBS-T, resultin g in an indirect measure of both physical and relational aggression. Results may be confounded by the report from a single teacher per participant due to this indirect measurement. In other words, relationall y aggressive children may not, in fact, be more inclined to utilize physical aggression. Instead, teachers may perceive

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71 individuals who engage in either physical aggression or relationa l aggression more negatively. In turn, these teachers may rate these children higher on each form of aggression. In other words, if a teacher commonly observes a child engaging in relational aggression, th is teacher may rate relational aggression as very high. The teacher ma y also assume that because the child uses relational aggression frequentl y, s/he may also utilize physic al aggression at times. Another explanation for the corr elation of relational and physi cal aggression could be that highly relationally aggressive children may utilize physical a ggression at times, but not as frequently as relational aggression. Similarly, a highly physically aggressive child might use relational aggression at times, but not as fre quently as physical aggression. This possibility should be explored further. For example, future st udies could utilize point bi serial correlations to assess the relationships among an only relati onally aggressive group, an only physically aggressive group, and a both relati onally and physically aggressi ve group. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) also could be used to examine gr oup differences between an only relationally aggressive group, an only physica lly aggressive group, and a both relationally and physically aggressive group. In the current sample, there were only 3 children who were considered only highly physically aggressive, onl y 2 children who were consid ered both highly relationally aggressive and highly physically aggressive, and only 12 children who were considered only highly relationally aggressive. These groups we re not large enough, and thus did not yield enough statistical power to find significant differences. Therefore, sufficient data were not available to assess relationships between group differences among a purely highly relationally aggressive group, a purely highly physically aggr essive group, and a mixed highly-relationally and highlyphysically aggressive group.

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72 Research Question 2 The second research question exam ined the re lationships between re lational aggression and gender, expressive-language ability, and perspect ive taking skills. Initial analyses did not find relational aggression to be relate d to gender, expressive-languag e ability, or perspective taking skills; however, further analyses did provide some support for th e hypothesis stating expressivelanguage abilities may be higher in relationally aggressive children and for the hypothesis stating that perspective taking abilities may be better developed in re lationally aggressive children. Gender Most research exam ining re lational aggression in young ch ildren has found relational aggression is most common among females (Bonica et al., 2003; Cr ick et al., 1997; Crick et al., 2001; Crick et al., 2006; McNeilly-Choque et al., 1996). However, McEvoy and colleagues (2003) found that young males enga ge in relational aggression more often than females. Specifically, McEvoy et al. found relational aggression was the most common form of aggression among young females; ho wever, young males were found to engage in more acts of relational aggression than young females. No gender differences with regard to relati onal aggression were found in the current study. In other words, among this sample, males and females engaged in the same amount of relational aggression as reported by teachers on th e Preschool Social Behavior Scale. Various explanations for the finding of no gender differences with regard to relational aggression exist. As mentioned previously, the ma jority of participants attended centers that utilized the Second Step Violen ce Prevention Curriculum. The im plementation of this program may be confounding the results. Specifically, th is program could be teaching young preschoolers to understand the emotional perspective of others so well that these ch ildren are a ll now more skilled at employing relational aggression.

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73 A related possibility is that gender is not as important a pr edictor of relational aggression as it is of physical aggression. Skills such as expressive language ability and perspective taking ability may actually account for a significantly larger amount of the variance in relational aggression than gender does. Expressive Language Ability Hypothesis 3 stated that relationally aggr essive young children would have better developed expressive-language skills, as m easur ed by the EVT. Support for this hypothesis was not found when other variables were not held co nstant; however, support for this hypothesis was found when prosocial skills were held constant. In other words, expressive-language ability does predict relational aggression when pros ocial skills are held constant. The Resource Control Theory could be utili zed to help explain th is unexpected finding. The Resource Control Theory hypothesizes that various interactions require competition for resources (competition for attention of peers, a ce rtain place in line, a desired object, etc). The presence of such competition prompts the use of strategic control efforts. These control efforts can be prosocial, coercive, or a mixture thereof. Hawley (2003) found that relationally aggressive children are more commonly bistrategic controllers or children who use a mixture of prosocial and coercive control methods. Because these ch ildren tend to use both coercive and prosocial strategies at times, it is possibl e that teachers generally rate th em as less prosocial. The link between prosocial abilities and expressive language abilities was not dire ctly examined by this study. However, when prosocial skills are controll ed, and all children, despite their use of control strategies, are compared, expressive language abil ities of relational aggres sors are stronger. In other words, when the teacher pe rspective of social ability is taken out of the equation it does appear that relational ag gressors have better expressive language skills.

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74 The use of the Resource Control Theory he lps explain this perp lexing finding; however, this theory in and of itself is not sufficient. Future research should further examine this phenomenon. Until this finding is further studied, confident conclusions are unable to be formed. Perspective Taking Skills The current study hypothesized that relationa lly aggressive pres choolers would have better developed perspective-ta king skills when compared to non-relationally aggressive preschoolers and to physically aggressive preschoo lers. Support for this finding initially was not provided, as the measure initially ut ilized to assess perspective ta king skills (i.e., the ECSCI) is a measure derived from the Second Step Curriculum. As the majority of part icipants in this study were attending programs where the Second Step Curriculum was implemented, this finding is likely confounded. In order to further examine the relationship between perspective-taking skills and relational aggression, participants were told 2 stories th at demonstrated blatan t acts of relational aggression. When participants we re asked how the relational victims in the scenarios felt, an overwhelming majority of relational aggressors were able to correctly take the perspective of the victim. However, many non-aggressive individuals also were able to correctly identify the perspective of the victim, pointing out the need to further investigate this construct. Additionally, in one of the scenarios the relationally aggressi ve preschoolers were bett er able to take the perspective of the relational victims than their non-relationally aggressive peers. In the other scenario, the findings were approaching significa nce, again highlighting the need to further investigate this construct. The Resource Control Theory, in combinati on with the Social Information Processing Model (SIMP), could be used to explain the relationship between relational aggression and

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75 perspective taking skills. Hawley (2003) notes relational aggre ssors use both coercive and prosocial strategies to get what they want. Th is suggests that these ag gressors are able to understand various ways to obtain desired outcomes. In order to be able to understand various methods of obtaining preferred results, and in orde r to be able to choose the most effective way of obtaining desired outcomes, one mu st be able to take the persp ective of others and apply this knowledge when making social decisions. In ot her words, it is likely these individuals appropriately encode social cues (i.e., step 1 of the SIMP) and accurately understand the social cues (i.e., step 2 of the SIMP). During the next step of the SIMP where goals are clarified (i.e., step 3 of the SIPM), these relationally aggressi ve individuals decide upon what they want, and then think of both coercive (via the use of relational aggressive) a nd prosocial strategies. If these aggressors think they are able to obtain the desi red outcome via the use of prosocial strategies, they may do so. However, if these relationally ag gressive individuals thin k that using prosocial strategies may not yield the desi red result, they may decide to utilize relational aggression in order to obtain the preferred outcome. Important ly, however, many preschoolers skills may not be sufficiently well developed to make fine decision-making distinctions. Relationally aggressive young children may have more advanced perspective-taking skills than their non-relationally aggressive peers because of the development of their thinking abilities. The decision making abilities of most preschool children may not be developed wellenough to make very fine distinctions during the information processing of their social worlds. However, the decision making abilities of relationa l aggressors, in combin ation with, or instead of, the perspective-taking abiliti es of relational aggressors ma y actually be what is better developed in these preschool children.

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76 Research Question 3 The third research question ex am ined the relationships between physical aggression and gender, expressive-language ability, and perspective taking skills. Gender Male gender has repeatedly been found to be related to physical aggression in young children (Coie & Dodge, 1997; Juvonen & Graham 2001; Lavigne et al., 2001; Mathesen & Sanson, 2000; McEvoy et al., 2003; Monks et al., 2002 Pierce et al, 1999). The current study also found physical aggressors we re more likely to be m ale. An overwhelming amount of literature supports the idea that physical aggressors are more commonly males, especially in early ch ildhood. A likely explanatio n for this repeated finding is that young physical aggressors are, in fact, more likely to be male than female. Expressive Language Ability Young physical aggressors often have been found to exhibit poor expressive and recep tive language skills (Estreem, 2005; Park et al., 2005). Consistent with past research, participants in the current st udy who were physically aggressive tended to have less welldeveloped expressive language abilities. This finding simply provides more evidence to support the idea that physical aggressors commonly have less-well de veloped language skills. Perspective Taking Skills Many researchers u se the Social Information Processing Model (SIPM) to explain physically aggressive behavior (Coie & Cillesse n, 1993; Dodge, Lansford, Salzer Burks, Bates, Pettit, Fontaine, & Price, 2003; Salzer Bu rks, Laird, & Dodge, 1999; Webster-Stratton & Lindsay, 1999). With regard to the SIPM, physic ally aggressive indivi duals are commonly found to process information in an excessively negativ e manner (have hostile a ttribution biases). The

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77 hypothesis states that physically aggressive children interpret so cial cues delivered by others (peers) as having hostile or malice intent, despite whether hostile or malice intent was present. This hypothesis suggests physical aggressors of ten lack perspective taking skills (Coie & Cillessen, 1993; Dodge, et al., 2003; Salzer Bu rks et al., 1999; Webster-Stratton & Lindsay, 1999). Support for the idea that physi cal aggressors lack perspec tive taking skills was not found in the current study. This divergent finding was likely due to the implementation of the Second Step Curriculum in the majority of participating sites. The measure used to assess general perspectivetaking skills (i.e., the ECSCI) is a measure derived from the S econd Step Curriculum. Therefore as stated before, the use of th is curriculum likely confounded the results of this study. As such, future research should further investigate th e role perspective taki ng plays in physically aggressive young children. Other Findings Physical Aggression Variables to be includ ed in exploratory step-wise regressi on analyses were determined through the use of data reduction. In conducting these exploratory an alyses, the number of adults in classrooms was found to significantly predict the amount of physical aggression that occurred. The classrooms that had more adults in them were very large, open, unstructured classrooms with many children present in the room at any gi ven time. The classroom atmosphere, rather than the number of adults present, may actually be the predictor of physical aggression under these circumstances. Unfortunately data to expl ore this possibility were not gathered. Prosocial Skills Correla tes of prosocial skills were examined because less well developed prosocial skills was related to both physical aggression and relational aggression and because when prosocial

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78 skills were held constant expres sive language ability was a significant predicto r of relational aggression. Sex, age, and early childhood program attended significantly predicted prosocial skills. As mentioned previously, males were mo re likely to engage in physical aggression. Therefore, it is not surprising that females tended to display more prosocial behaviors. Additionally, social skills improve as children get older. As such, it is not surprising that older children engaged in more prosocial behaviors than younger children. Fi nally, the early childhood programs attended by participants predicted prosoc ial behaviors. A couple of explanations could explain this finding. First, teachers at some sites may be more tole rant of problem behaviors, and thus rate less prosocial behaviors more leniently. Next, some sites may have classes spend more time engaging in activities to increase social skills. Finally, the demographi cs of students at each site might impact the use of prosocial skills. Theoretical Implications Results from this study support the notion that the SIPM m ay be utilized in a qualitatively different manner by relational aggressors than by physical aggressors (Crick et al., 2002). Crick et al. (2002) found relational aggressors hold hostile at tributions with regard to situations based upon relationships. Crain et al. (2006) we re unable to replicat e these findings in two independent studies. The current study did no t examine hostile attribu tion biases; however it did study the role of perspective taking among relational aggressors. Hawley (2003) found relational aggressors were skilled at choosing the more effective control strategies, whether they be prosocial control strategies or coercive control strategies. Findings from the current study suggest the ro le of perspective taking should be further investigated with regard to relational aggressors. Based upon the Social Information Processing Model, the Resource Control Theory, and preliminary findings of this study, it appears an altered form of th e Social Information

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79 Processing Model, which is informed by the Re source Control Theory, may be better able to account for relational aggression in young children. Specifically, re lational aggressors may be able to understand various ways to obtain desired outcomes via their skilled perspective taking abilities. Relational aggressors mi ght accurately encode the social cues given by others (i.e., step 1 of the SIPM). They also may appropriately understand those cues (i.e., step 2 of the SIPM). Although findings from Crick et al. (2002) suggest this is wh ere the breakdown in social information processing occurs in relationally aggressive indi viduals, the breakdown may occur during the next three steps (i.e., st ep 3, step 4, and step 5 of the SIPM,) where goals are clarified, access to solutions are evaluated, and decisions are made. According to the Resource Control Theory, during the third step of the SIPM these relationally aggressive individuals decide upon what they want, a nd then think of both coercive (via the use of relational aggressive) and prosocial stra tegies to obtain the desired outcome (step 4). If these aggressors think they are able to obtain the desired outcome via the use of prosocial strategies, they may decide to do so (step 5) However, if these relationally aggressive individuals think that using prosocial strategies may not yield the desired result, they may decide upon implementing relational aggression in order to obtain the preferred outcome (step 5). Appendix G graphically illustrates how the Social Information Processing Model could be combined with the Resource Control Theory to explain relational aggression among young children. Limitations Design and Internal Validity Ostrov, Crick, and Stauffancher (2006) point ou t the im portance of a multi-contextual approach (school and family influences) in und erstanding the development of aggression and in providing a guide for future interventions. The current study did not asse ss contextual factors

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80 regarding family and neighborhoods. Specifically, information concerning parenting styles, number of siblings, birth order, amount of sibling-on-sibling relati onal aggression, neighborhood environments, and amount of neighborhood relati onal aggression observed by parents could have helped to explain more of the variance in relational aggressi on. Future studies should ask for parents perspectives about each of these factors. Information related to the contextual factors left out of this study could prove useful in informing relational aggression prevention and intervention efforts. As mentioned previously, th e use of the Second Step Vi olence Prevention Curriculum likely confounded some of the current studies resu lts, thus presenting a th reat to the studys internal validity. External Validity and Generalizability Data for the current study were collected in a southeastern college town. Additionally, data were only obtained from model early childho od centers, each of which has or is capable of having accreditation from various early childhoo d accrediting boards. Given that data were collected at model centers in a college town, the parents may have a higher level of education than parents in the general population. As such, car e should be taken when generalizing results to other populations. Measurement As m entioned previously, the ECSCI was deve loped to assess perspective taking gains made as a result of inclusion in a Second Step Violence Prevention program. The majority of participants in this study attended centers where the S econd Step Violence Prevention Curriculum was implemented. Therefore, the ECSC I likely provided a measure of skills related to those learned from Second Step, and not overall perspectiv e taking skills.

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81 Finally, the Relational Aggression Perspect ive Taking Questionnair e only included two scenarios. This instrument was able to provi de preliminary results regarding the relational aggression perspective taking abilit ies of relational aggressors; however, the instrument was not sensitive enough to provide detail ed results concerning differen ces among relational aggressors, physical aggressors, and non-aggressors. Future Directions Perspective Taking The com bined use of the Social Informa tion Processing Model and Resource Control Theory to explain relatio nal aggression deserves further atten tion. Future research could examine the relationship of control stra tegies and perspective taking among relationally aggressive, physically aggressive, and non-relationally aggressi ve children. Future studies could explore the following questions: Are control strategies mediated by perspective taking abilities? Do individuals who always or almo st always use coercive strate gies tend to have less-well developed perspective taking ab ilities? Do individuals who commonly use both coercive and prosocial control strategies have better-developed perspec tive taking abilities? How do the perspective taking abilities of i ndividuals who almost always util ize prosocial control strategies differ from those who commonly use coercive and prosocial strategies? C ould this difference be utilized in some way to inform relational aggression prevention and intervention efforts? Additionally, the role of relational hostile at tribution biases deserves further attention. Research aimed at answering the question of how these hostile attr ibution biases may fit into the Relational Aggression Social Information Pro cessing Model based upon Resource Control, if these hostile attribution biases exist, should be conducted. Findings of the current study demonstrated that relationally aggressive individuals understood how victims of relationa l aggression would feel in rela tionally aggressive scenarios.

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82 However, non-aggressive children also were able to correctly identify how victims of relational aggression would feel in relati onally aggressive scenarios. Future research should try to disentangle what is different, if anything, about the relational aggression specific perspectivetaking abilities utilized by rela tional aggressors when compared to non-relational aggressors. An expanded version of the Relational Aggression Perspective Taking Questionnaire could be used to obtain further knowledge of how sp ecific perspective taking abilities of relational aggressors differ from those of non-aggressors. The questionnaire used in the current study only included two scenarios. This instrument may have been more sensitive if more scenarios were included. Efforts to create a valid and reliable m easure of young childrens general perspective taking abilities should be made. The main measure (i.e., the ECSCI) used to assess perspective taking abilities in the current study may have provided misleading results. As mentioned previously, the measure was created base d upon the Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum. The majority of pa rticipants in this study attende d programs that implemented the Second Step Violence Prevention Curriculum. Therefore, the ECSCI may ha ve actually been measuring a result of exposure to the Second St ep Violence Prevention Curriculum as opposed to overall, general perspective-taking abilities. Future studies should c onsider the use of a different measure to assess overall pe rspective taking skills. Gender The current study found gender was not a signifi cant predictor of relational aggression in young children. McEvoy et al. (2003) also found fem a le gender and relational aggression were uncorrelated in preschool sample. Conversel y, many researchers have found young females are more relationally aggressive th an young males (Bonica et al., 2003; Crick et al., 1997; Crick et al., 2001; Crick et al., 2006; Mc Neilly-Choque et al., 1996). These discrepant findings highlight

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83 the need to continue examining the role gender plays in the prediction of relational aggression among young children. Expressive Language One hypothesis of the current study postulated that higher expressive language abilities would be predictive of relati onal aggression in y oung children. Estrem (2005) and Bonica and colleagues (2003) found better-developed expressive language abil ities to be predictive of relational aggression in young children; however Park et al. (2005) found less well-developed language abilities accoun t for a significant amoun t of the variance in relational aggression. The current study found that expressi ve-language abilities were on ly predictive of relational aggression when prosocial skills were held constant. In other words, when the teacher perspective of social ability is taken out of th e equation it does appear that relational aggressors have better expressive language skills. The use of the Resource Control Theory could help to explain this perplexing finding. This theory alone, however, is unabl e to adequately explain this finding. Future research should further examine this puzzling discovery. Until this finding is further studied, confident conclu sions regarding the expressive language abilities of relational aggressors are unable to be stated. Applied Implications Physical aggression One unexpected finding of this study was the relationship between a dults in a classroo m and physical aggression. Physical ag gression increased as the number of adults in the classroom increased. As mentioned previously, the classes with more adults also contained more children in very large rooms with masses of open space. In order to decrease physical aggression, early childhood classrooms could be smaller rooms, w ith fewer students, and thus fewer adults.

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84 Additionally, the classroom could be designed so large open spaces were not present, decreasing the opportunity for running and roug h play within the classroom. Relational aggression Relational aggressors may have better perspec tive taking skills, but this is not som ething intervention and prevention program s should try to alter. Relati onal aggression appears to be linked to many positive attributes. Some may ponder the possibility that relational aggression is normative. However, if relational aggression we re normative, would it be related to so many negative psycho-social outcomes among victims as well as perpetrators? The more satisfying answer may be that a negative predictor of rela tional aggression exists, research has just not identified it yet. Comparing the perspective taki ng abilities and control strategies of relational aggressors may provide answers re garding what we can change to decrease relational aggression. Moreover, researchers may want to consider the unappealing possibi lity that current physical aggression prevention programs may be inadvertently increasing relational aggression. As mentioned previously, it appears that relationa l aggression is linked to skills advantageous for children to have (well developed expressive language ability, well developed perspective taking skills). Research efforts should explore how to continue to promote th ese skills while demoting the use of relational and physical aggression.

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85 APPENDIX A SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING MODEL (Crick & Dodge, 1994)

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86 APENDIX B REVIEW OF RELATIONAL AGGR ESSION ASSESSME NT TECHNIQUES Table B-1. Review of relational aggression assessment techniques Instrument/ Technique Aspects Assessed Psychometric Properties Child Friendliness Examiner Friendliness Target Population Direct Observation in Natural Setting Based on PSBPs definition of relational aggression (Crick, Casas, Mosher, 1997) Relational aggression Evidence of Content Validity; Concurrent CriterionRelated Validity is present when compared with PSBS-P and when compared with PSBS-T (McEvoy et al., 2003) Interrater-reliability would need to be obtained when this method is used Very, child should be unaware that he/she is being observed NoIt is difficult to hear some instances of relational aggression. It is difficult/imp ossible to ensure observer is not causing children to behave in manners out of the norm. It is very time consuming. Preschooler Children (defined as ages 3-5 yrs) Could be used with other individuals as well Semistructured, Analogue Observations (Crick et al., 2004) Relational Aggression Evidence of Content validity is present; Low levels of participant reactivity increases its external validity (Crick et al., 2004) High interobserver has been reported (Crick et al., 2004) Interrater-reliability would need to be obtained each time this method is used High agreement with teacher reports (PSBS-T) has been reported (Crick et al., 2004) Somewhat, however peer interactions are manipulated in hopes of eliciting relational aggression Yes; however coding video-tapes is likely to be a tedious task Preschool Children (defined as ages 3-5 yrs) Could be used with other individuals Parent interview: relational aggression (Crick & et al.) Relational aggression Some evidence of Content Validity (however this is limited because the interview is semistructured) Other Data are unavailable Not applicable, but it is up to the interviewer to ensure it is parent friendly Yes, as long as the interviewer is comfortable with his/her role as interviewer Could be utilized with individuals of any age

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87 Table B-1. Continued Instrument/ Technique Aspects Assessed Psychometric Properties Child Friendliness Examiner Friendliness Target Population Preschool Behavior ScalePeer Form (PSBS-P) (Crick, Casas, Mosher, 1997) 1.Relational Aggression; 2.Overt, Physical Aggression; 3.Peer Acceptance; 4.Peer Rejection; 5.Prosocial Behavior Evidence of Content Validity is present; Concurrent CriterionRelated Validity is present when compared with direct observations (McEvoy et al., 2003); Internal consistency reported by McEvoy et al., 2003 for relational aggression (ra) = between .64 and .76; for overt aggression (oa)= between .61 and .83; for prosocial behavior (pb)= .62 and .80 Chronbachs for ra= .71; oa=.77; pb=.68 (Crick et al., 1997) Yes, picture nominations used to ease in assessment. May be less childfriendly for young children with limited or less developed language skills. Yes, however, it may be timeconsuming and tedious to administer and score. Preschool Children (defined as ages 3-5yrs) Preschool Behavior ScaleTeacher (PSBS-T) (Crick, Casas, Mosher, 1997) 1.Relational Aggression; 2.Overt, Physical Aggression; 3.Prosocial Behavior; 4.Childs Acceptance with SameSex Peers; 5.Childs Acceptance with OppositeSex Peers Evidence of Content Validity is present Concurrent CriterionRelated Validity is present when compared with direct observations (McEvoy et al., 2003); Internal consistency reported by McEvoy et al., 2003 for relational aggression (ra) = between .81 and .89; for overt aggression (oa)= between .72 and .83; for prosocial behavior (pb) = between .62 and .83; for depressed affect (da) = between .82 and .90 Chronbachs ra= .96; oa= .94; pb= .88; da= .87 (Crick et al., 1997) N/A for children. For teachers it is easy to understand and short; however teachers may be asked to fill out a rating for several (if not all) students in the class, so it could become more tedious. Very Examiner Friendly. It is easy to administer and score Preschool Children (defined as ages 3 5 yrs)

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88 Table B-1. Continued Instrument/ Technique Aspects Assessed Psychometric Properties Child Friendliness Examiner Friendliness Target Population Childrens Social Behavior Scale (CSBS) (Crick, 1996) 1.Relational Aggression 2.Overt, Physical Aggression 3.Prosocial behavior Evidence of Content Validity is present; Internal consistency= for relational aggression is between .63 and .83; for physical aggression is between .76 and .84; for prosocial behavior is between .73 and .89 (Crick, 1996) N/A for children. For teachers it is easy to understand and short; however tedious if asked to complete for several students. Very examiner friendly. It is easy to administer and score 3rd through 6th grade Childrens Peer Relation Scale (CPRS) (Crick 1991 in Crick & Grotpeter, 1995 1. Overt, Physical Aggression 2.Relational Aggression 3. Prosocial Behavior 4.Loneliness Evidence of Content Validity is present; Internal consistency= between .7 and .82 (depending on construct) Test-retest reliability = between .80 and .96 (depending on construct) (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995) Yes, it is written in childfriendly terms and it is relatively short Yes, it is easy to administer and score. Middle childhood through adolescence ( 9 yrs 17 yrs) Peer Nomination of Relational Aggression and other Aspects of Social Adjustment (Crick, 1995; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995) 1.Overt, Physical Aggression 2.Relational Aggression 3.Prosocial Behavior 4.Loneliness Evidence of Content Validity is present; Internal Consistency of items for prosocial items is .79 to .90; for relational aggression items is .73 to .84; for overt aggression items is .88 to .91; for isolation/ unhappiness items is .91 to .92 (Crick, 1995; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995) Yes, however children must be encouraged not to discuss their rankings. Yes, however, it may be timeconsuming and tedious to administer and score. 3rd through 6th grade (but can be, and has been adapted for use with adolescents or individuals in college) Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Crick et al., 2004; McEvoy et al., 2003

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92 APPENDIX C LIMITATIONS OF CURRENT RELA TIONAL AGGRES SION ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES Table C-1. Limitations of current rela tional aggression assessment techniques Instrument/Technique Limitations Direct Observation in Natural Setting Based on PSBPs definition of relational aggression (Crick, Casas, Mosher, 1997) 1. In order to get a valid picture of each child it is likely to become very time consuming. 2. It may be difficult to hear what the children are saying. 3. Children may behave differently as a result of having the observer present. 4. Somewhat subjective, as it depends on whet her the examiner feels the behavior fits the operational definition of relati onal aggression. As such, interrater-reliability is essential. 5. Control is essentially excha nged for authenticity (though this is not necessarily a limitation). Semi-structured, Analogue Observations (Crick et al., 2004) 1. Coding video-tapes could become tedious 2. Not as authentic as obser vations in natural settings 3. Somewhat subjective, as it depends on whet her the examiner feels the behavior fits the operational definition. As such, inte rrater-reliability is essential. Parent interview: relational aggression (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995) 1. No quantitative information is obtained. 2. Based on parents subjective opinion. 3. Parent may not be away of instances of relational aggression. Preschool Behavior ScalePeer Form (PSBS-P) (Crick, Casas, Mosher, 1997) 1. Children with limited language skills may have difficulty understanding what is being asked of them. 2. Children may discuss with peers who have not been assessed yet, possibly skewing the findings obtained. 3. Limited number of items for each construct (max of 7) could limit reliability. Preschool Behavior ScaleTeacher (PSBS-T) (Crick, Casas, Mosher, 1997) 1. Based on the teachers subjective judgment. 2. Teacher may not see all behaviors exhibited by the child. 3. Limited number of items for each construct (max of 6) could limit reliability. Childrens Social Behavior Scale Teacher Form (CSBS) (Crick, 1996) 1. Based on the teachers subjective judgment. 2. Teacher may not be aware of a ll instances of relational aggression 3. Teacher may not see all behaviors exhibited by the child. 4. Limited number of items for each construct (max of 7) could limit reliability. Childrens Peer Relation Scale (CPRS) (Crick 1991 in Crick & Grotpeter, 1995) 1. Limited number of items for each construct (max of 5) could limit reliability. Some constructs have as few as 2 items, which could limit reliability. 2. There is no scale to assess truthfulness of answers provided. 3. Children may be reluctant to an swer in ways that they feel make them look negatively. They may try to please the exam iner with their answers. Peer Nomination of Relational Aggression and other Aspects of Social Adjustment (Crick, 1995; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995) 1. Children may discuss assessment with peers w ho have not been assessed yet, possibly skewing the findings obtained. 2. Limited number of items for each construct (max of 5) could limit reliability. 3. Children may be reluctant to negatively nominate friends who engage in items worded negatively.

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93 APPENDIX D PRESCHOOL SOCIAL BEHAVIOR SCALETEACHER FORM The following m easure is adapted from that de scribed in Crick, Casa s, & Mosher (1997)> Crick, N.R., Casas, J.F., & Mosher, M. ( 1997). Relational and overt aggression in Preschool. Developmental Psychology, 33, 579-588. The measure is based on a similar measure developed for use with ch ildren in middle childhood (e.g., Crick, 1996). The PSBS-T contains a total of 25 items and assesses the following: Subscales: Relational Aggression : Items # 4, 8, 11, 131, 15, 191, 21, 22 Over/Physical Aggression: Items # 2, 5, 7, 12, 14, 171, 201, 23 Prosocial Behavior : Items # 1, 3, 6, 10 Depressed Affect : Items # 9, 16, 182, Childs acceptance with same sex peers : Item # 24 Childs acceptance with opposite sex peers : Item # 25 1 = items cross-loaded on th e factor analysis and were dropped from further analyses. 2 = item needs to be reverse-coded.

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94 Preschool Social Behavior Scale Teacher Never or always almost not some or almost never true often times often always true 1. This child is good at sharing and taking turns 1 2 3 4 5 2. This child kicks or hits others. 1 2 3 4 5 3. This child is helpful to peers. 1 2 3 4 5 4. This child tells a peer that he/she wont play with 1 2 3 4 5 that peer or be that peers friend unless he/she does what this child asks. 5. This child verbally threatens to hit or beat up other 1 2 3 4 5 children. 6. This child is kind to peers. 1 2 3 4 5 7. This child pushes or shoves other children. 1 2 3 4 5 8. This child tells others not to play with or be a 1 2 3 4 5 peers friend. 9. This child doesnt have much fun. 1 2 3 4 5 10. This child says or does nice things for other kids. 1 2 3 4 5 11. When mad at a peer, this child keeps that peer 1 2 3 4 5 from being in the play group. 12. This child verbally threatens to physically harm 1 2 3 4 5 another peer in order to get what they want. 13. This child tries to embarrass peers by making fun 1 2 3 4 5 of them in front of other children. 14. This child ruins other peers things (e.g. art projects, 1 2 3 4 5 toys) when he/she is upset. 15. This child tells a peer they wont be invited to their 1 2 3 4 5 birthday party unless he/she does what the child wants. 16. This child looks sad. 1 2 3 4 5 17. This child throws things at others when he/she doesnt 1 2 3 4 5 get his/her own way. 18. This child smiles at other kids. 1 2 3 4 5 19. This child walks away or turns his/her back when 1 2 3 4 5 he/she is mad at another peer. 20. This child verbally threatens to push a peer off a toy 1 2 3 4 5 (e.g. tricycle, play horse) or ruin what the peer is working on (e.g. building blocks) unless that peer shares. 21. This child tries to get others to dislike a peer 1 2 3 4 5 (e.g. by whispering mean things about the peer behind the peers back). 22. This child verbally threatens to keep a peer out of the 1 2 3 4 5 play group if the peer doesnt do what the child says. 23. This child hurts other children by pinching them. 1 2 3 4 5 24. This child is well liked by peers of the same sex. 1 2 3 4 5 25. This child is well liked by peers of the opposite sex. 1 2 3 4 5 Childs Name ________________________ Childs sex: Male or Female? Teachers Name ______________________ Age ______

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95 APPENDIX E PRESCHOOL PEER NOMINATIO N MEASUREPEER FORM The following m easure was adapted from that described in Crick, Ca sas, & Mosher (1997). Crick, N.R., Casas, J.F., & Mosher, M. (1997). Relational and overt aggression in preschool. Developmental Psychology, 33, 579-588. The measure is based on a similar measure developed for use with ch ildren in middle childhood (e.g., Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). The PSBS-P contains a total of 19 items and assesses the following : Subscales: Peer Acceptance: Item #1 Peer Rejection : Item #2 Relational Aggression : Items #4, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 16 Overt/Physical Aggression : Items #3, 5, 9, 13, 15, 18 Prosocial Behavior : Items #7, 11, 17, 19

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96 Preschool Social Behavior Scale Peer Form Session A 1. Point to the pictures of three kids who you like to play with. 2. Point to the pictures of three ki ds who you dont like to play with. 3. Point to the pictures of three kids who push or shove other kids. (OA) 4. Point to the pictures of three kids who tell other kids not to be someones friend. The might say, dont play with that kid. (OA) 5. Point to the pictures of three kids who say they will hit or beat up other kids to that they can get what they want. (VTO) 6. Point to the pictures of three kids who say they wont invite someone to their birthday party if they cant get what they want. (VTR) 7. Point to the pictures of three kids who are good at sharing and taking turns. (PS) 8. Point to the pictures of three kids who wont let a kid play in the group if they are mad at that kid. They might tell the kid to go away. (RA) 9. Point to the picture of three kids who say th ey will knock someones stuff overt or mess it up if they dont get to play with it too. (VTO) 10. Point to the pictures of three kids who whisper mean things about other kids. (RA) 11. Point to the pictures of three kids who are ni ce to other kids. They might do nice things for other kids. (PS) Session B 12. Point to the pictures of three kids who tell other kids that they cant play with the group unless they do what the group wants them to do. (VTR) 13. Point to the pictures of three kids who kick or hit other kids. (OA) 14. Point to the pictures of three kids who won t listen to someone if they are mad at them, they may even cover their ears. (RA) 15. Point to the pictures of three kids who say they will push someone off a toy if they dont get to play on it too. (VTO) 16. Point to the pictures of three kids who say th ey wont be someones friends if they dont get what they want. (VTR) 17. Point to the pictures of three kids who help other kids. (PS) 18. Point to the pictures of three kids who throw things at other kids when they dont get their way. (OA) 19. Point to the pictures of three kids who smile at other kids a lot. (PS) Loneliness Questions Yes No Sometimes 1. Can you find a friend when you need one? _____ _____ _____ 2. Do you have kids to play with at school? _____ _____ _____ 3. Do you get along with other kids at school? _____ _____ _____ 4. Do the kids at school like you? _____ _____ _____ 5. Do you have friends at school? _____ _____ _____ 6. Do you like to hear stories? _____ _____ _____

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97 APPENDIX F: EARLY CHILDHOOD SOCIAL C OGNITIONS INTERVIEW A. The ability to determine the emotional states of another person. 1. Part A: Recognize overt expressions of emotions : show child pictures of children and ask how they are feeling. Emoti ons include: happy, sad, angry, surprise, and afraid. 1. Part B: Verbalize the cues to determine th e emotion: Ask, How can you tell that the person is _________? What about the pers ons face/body tells you that he/she is feeling ________? 2. Part A: Recognizes that feeli ngs can change, and why it happens. Say, When Juan first got to school today, he was crying. His teach er gave him a hug and he started smiling. a. How did Juan feel when he got to school? b. Why do you think he might have felt _______? c. How did Juan feel after his teacher gave him a hug? d. Why do you think he might have felt _______? B. The ability to assume the perspective and role of another person. 1. Part A: Recognize that different people have different feelings about the same thing: show picture of two children and say, Jessi ca loves clowns, but Tyle r is afraid of them. Their teacher tells them that their class will be going to a circus, and that there will be lots of clowns there. How do you think Jessica will feel? How do you think Tyler will feel? Part B: Express care and concer n for others: Ask, How could Jessica help Tyler feel better? C. The ability to problem solve social situations: Show each sheet of pictures to child and say, This is _______(name for child A). This is _______(name for child B). Can you tell me wh at toy this is? (show picture of toy). Yes, a ball. Now _______(name of child A) ha s been playing with this ball for a long time and __________(name of child B) want a chance to play with it. But, _______(name for child A) keeps on playing with it. Wh at can _________(name for child B) do so s/he can have a change to play with the toy? Thats one way. Now the idea of th is game is to think of lots of ways to get a chance to play with toys, okay? What else could ___________(name for child B) do?

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98 APPENDIX G: RELATIONAL AGGRESSION SOCIAL INFOR MATION PROCESSING BASED ON RESOURCE CONTROL (Model components taken from Crick & Dodge, 1994 and Hawley, 2003) Step 1: Encoding of Social Cues Likely done appropriately Step 2: Interpretation of Social Cues Likely done appropriately Step 3: Clarify GoalsDecide Upon Desired Outcome Step 4: Access to Various Responses Examined Prosocial Strategies Considered Coercive Strategies Considered Step 5: Response DecisionProsocial Choice Made Step 5: Response DecisionCoercive Choice Made Step 6: Decision EnactedProsocial Behavior Occurs Step 6: Decision EnactedRelational Aggression Occurs

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99 LIST OF REFERENCES Agresti, A., & Finlay, D. (1999) Statistical Methods for the So cial Science, Third Edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Altepeter, T. S., & Korger, J. N. (1999). Disruptive behavior: Oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. In S.D. Netherton, & D. Holmes (Eds.), Child and adolescent psychological disorder s: A comprehensive textbook (pp. 118-138). London: Oxford University Press. Andreou, E. (2006). Social preference, perceive d popularity, and social intelligence: Relational to overt and relational aggression. School Psychology International, 27 339-351. Archer, J. (2001). A strategic approach to aggression. Social Development, 10 267-271. Arsenio, W. F., & Lemerise, E. A. (2001). Vari eties of childhood bullying: Values, emotion processes, and social competence. Social Development, 10 59-73. Barrington, B.L., & Hendricks, B (1989). Differe ntiating characterist ics of high school graduates, dropouts, and nongraduates. Journal of Educational Research, 82 309-319. Blair, C. (2002). School readiness: Integra ting cognition and emotion in a neurobiological conceptualization of children's functioning at school entry. American Psychologist, 57 111-127. Bonica, C., Arnold, D. H., Fisher, P. H., Zeljo, A., & Yershova, K. (2003). Relational aggression, relational victimization, and language development in preschoolers. Social Development, 12 551-562. Broidy, L.M., Nagin, D.S., Tremblay, R.E., Bates, J.E., Brame, B., Dodge, K., Fergusson, D., Horwood, J.L., Loeber, R ., Laird, R., Lynam, D.R., Moffitt, T.E., Pettit, G., & Vitaro, F. (2003). Developmental trajectories of childhood disruptive behaviors and a dolescent delinquency a si x-site, cross-national study. Developmental Psychology 39 222-245. Brophy, J. (1983). Research of the self-fulfilling phophecy and teach er expectations. Journal of Educational Psychology, 75 631-661. Brown, L. M. (2003). Girlfighting: Betrayal and rejection among girls New York City: New York University Press. Burr, J. E. (2005). Relational aggression and reciprocal, dyadic friendships during early childhood: Does it ta ke two to tango? Online published doctoral di ssertation, University of Minnesota.

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100 Cairns, R.B., Cairns, B.D., & Neckerman, H.J. (1989). Early school dropout: Configuration and determinants. Child Development, 60 1437-52. Cairns, R.B., Cairns, B.D., Nickerman, H.J., Ge st, S.D., and Gariepy, J.L. (1988). Social networks and aggressive behavior : Peer support or peer rejection. Developmental Psychology, 23, 308-313. Carlo, G., Knight, G. P., Eisenberg, N., & Rotenberg, K. J. (1991). Cognitive processes and prosocial behaviors among children: The role of affective attributions and reconciliations. Developmental Psychology, 27 456-461. Casas, J. F., Weigel, S. M., Crick, N. R., Ostrov, J. M., Woods, K. E., & Jansen Yeh, E. A., et al. (2006). Early parenting and children's relationa l and physical aggression in the preschool and home contexts. Applied Developmental Psychology, 27 209-227. Cassidy, K. W., Werner, R. S., Rourke, M., & Z ubernis, L. S. (2003). The relationship between psychological understanding and positive social behaviors. Social Development, 12 198-221. Chang, L. (2003). Variable effects of children' s aggression, social wit hdrawal, and prosocial leadership as functions of teacher beliefs and behaviors. Child Development, 74 535-548. Cillessen, A. H. N., & Mayeuz, L. (2004). Fr om censure to reinforcement: Developmental changes in the association between aggression and social status. Child Development, 75 147-163. Clarke, N. M. (2004). Aggression and antisocial behavior in children and adolescents: Research and treatment. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 68, 192. Coie, J., & Cillessen, A. (1993). Peer rejection: Origins and effects on children's development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2 89-92. Coie, J. D., & Dodge, K. A., (1997). Aggressi on and antisocial behavior. In W. V. Damon (Ed.), Handbook of Child Development: Social Emotional and Personal Development, Fifth Edition. New York: J. Wiley. Colledge, E., Bishop, D. V. M., Koeppen-Schomerus, G., Price, T. S., Happe, F. G. E., & Eley, T., et al. (2002). The structure of langua ge abilities at 4 years: A twin study. Developmental Psychology, 38, 749-757. Coie, J.D., Dodge, K.A., and Kupersmidt, J.B. ( 1990). Peer group behavior and social status. In S.R. Asher and J.D. Coie (Eds.), Peer Rejection in Childhood (17-59). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

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112 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Jennifer Harm an was born and raised in Memphis, TN. She obtained her undergraduate education at the University of Memphis, where she majored in psychology and minored in sociology. Upon receiving her Bach elor of Arts in psychology, Jennifer was admitted to the School Psychology Program at the University of Memphis. After completing a year of graduate education at the University of Memphis, Je nnifer decided she would like to pursue a doctoral degree in school psychology. Sh e was admitted as a doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Florida in 2003. Jennifer earned her Masters of Education from the University of Florida in December of 2004. She plans on completing a clinical internship during the 2008/2009 academic school year. Upon graduation, Jennifer plans to pursue a post-doc placement which would a llow her to work towards licensing hours.