Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Adolescents pay close attention to their social status and actively pursue it through certain social behaviors. Previous studies have revealed that when adolescents feel their social standing is unsafe, namely having social status insecurity, they often use relational aggression to cope with it. However, what roles different social cognition processes play on the association between social status insecurity and relational aggression are unclear in the literature. Additionally, given that the relationship between relational victimization and relational aggression has also been observed in the literature, social status insecurity may also exert an important mediating impact on such an association. Nevertheless, few studies have examined this issue. Using a longitudinal design, this study addresses these research questions by examining two sets of integrated models, moderation models and mediation models, on the relationship between social status insecurity and relational aggression. In the moderation models, multiple social cognitive processes, including attribution, outcome expectancy, and normative beliefs regarding relational aggression are expected to moderate the association between social status insecurity and relational aggression. In the mediation models, social status insecurity is expected to mediate the association between relational victimization and aggression of adolescents. A total of 482 Chinese adolescents (238 girls) in 7th and 8th grades and 10 public middle school teachers participated in the study. Among those students, 357 adolescents (177 girls) participated in the study again eighteen months later. At the first time point of the study (T1), adolescents’ relational aggression was reported in the forms of self-reports, peer nominations, and teacher reports, while the social status insecurity, social cognitive processes (i.e., attribution, outcome expectancy, and normative beliefs), and relational victimization were assessed by self-reports. At the second point of the study (T2), adolescents’ relational aggression and victimization were measured from self-reports and peer nominations. Their social status insecurity was measured again by self-reports. The hypothesized moderation models were examined through hierarchical regressions, whereas the mediation models were examined using structural equation modeling (SEM). Results show that different social cognitive processes exerted different moderating effects on the relationship between social status insecurity and relational aggression. For instance, (a) self-serving attributions promoted the positive association between social status insecurity and relational aggression; (b) outcome expectancy regarding gaining social status also strengthened the relationship; and (c) the association between social status insecurity and relational aggression were stronger when adolescents attached high normative beliefs on relational aggression. In addition, for the mediation models, social status insecurity served as a significant mediator between relational victimization and relational aggression. This study enriches our knowledge, particularly regarding the role of their social cognitive processes, on the relationship between adolescents’ perception of their peer status and their use of relational aggression. Furthermore, results also contribute to our understanding of adolescents’ social status insecurity as it relates to the association between relational victimization and relational aggression.
Long, Yunyi, "Associations Between Social Status Insecurity and Relational Aggression in Chinese Adolescents: Moderations of Social Cognitive Prosesses" (2016). College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations. 162.