Stability of aggressive behaviors and children's peer relationships


The present research longitudinally evaluated the association of group and dyadic peer relation factors to the stability of aggression. Beginning in grades 2 through 5, children (N = 212) completed peer nominations for aggressive behaviors, sociometric ratings, sociometric nominations (like most and like least), and friendship nominations for 2 successive years. Children were classified into four Stability of Aggression Groups: Never Aggressive, Stable Aggressive, Discontinued Aggression, Became Aggressive. Aggressive children were evaluated as more disliked at each time of testing (i.e., Stable Aggressive and Discontinued Aggression at Time 1; Stable Aggressive and Became Aggressive at Time 2). Furthermore, sociometric ratings of children at Time 1 who became aggressive by Time 2 foreshadowed this transition. Children who discontinued aggressive behaviors were friends with children who were evaluated by peers as significantly less aggressive than the friends of children who continued aggressive behaviors. These findings suggest that early identification of children at risk for developing aggressive behavior may be possible through group-level peer evaluations, and identification of those at risk for continuing aggressive behavior may be possible through the evaluation of special dyadic friendships. Aggr. Behav. 26:277-290, 2000. © 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Publication Title

Aggressive Behavior