Is aggression associated with biased perceptions of one's acceptance and rejection in adolescence?
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Number of pages
SourceDevelopmental Psychology, 58, 5, (2022), pp. 963-976
Article / Letter to editor
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In adolescence, being rejected by one's peers is positively associated with aggression. However, whether self-perceptions of being rejected or accepted by peers, and biases in these perceptions, are linked to aggression remains unclear, as the literature points to 2 perspectives: Youth are more likely to be aggressive when they (a) know or believe that they are rejected or (b) overestimate their acceptance. By addressing some of the limitations of prior studies, this study aimed to clarify how self-perceptions of status are related to concurrent and future aggression, and whether high levels of aggression are predictive of biased self-perceptions of acceptance and rejection. Data were collected in 2 consecutive school years from 572 high school students (Mage = 15.06, SD = .75; 55.4% girls). The ethnic/racial composition of the sample was 47.5% Asian, 43.1% Latino/Hispanic, 4.0% White, and 5.3% other. For well-liked youth, awareness of one’s acceptance was positively associated with concurrent relational aggression, whereas for highly rejected youth, awareness of one's rejection was positively associated with concurrent overt aggression. Awareness of being rejected (i.e., high levels of both self-perceived and actual rejection) was associated with elevated levels of aggression over time. There was no evidence that youth with high levels of aggression had more biased perceptions of their status (concurrently or longitudinally) than youth with low levels of aggression. These findings help clarify how youth's status-related perceptions relate to the development of aggression.
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