Volume 66, Issue 3 p. 710-722

Relational Aggression, Gender, and Social-Psychological Adjustment

Nicki R. Crick

Corresponding Author

Nicki R. Crick

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Please send correspondence regarding this manuscript to the first author at Human Development and Family Studies, 1105 West Nevada Street, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.Search for more papers by this author
Jennifer K. Grotpeter

Jennifer K. Grotpeter

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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First published: June 1995
Citations: 574

This research was funded by a grant from the University of Illinois Research Board to the first author. Portions of this study were presented at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, March 1993, New Orleans. The authors would like to thank the principals, teachers, and students of Coppenbarger, Garfield, Harris, and Stevenson Elementary Schools for their assistance with the study. Special thanks also to Aaron Ebata for his invaluable comments on earlier drafts of this article.

Abstract

Prior studies of childhood aggression have demonstrated that, as a group, boys are more aggressive than girls. We hypothesized that this finding reflects a lack of research on forms of aggression that are relevant to young females rather than an actual gender difference in levels of overall aggressiveness. In the present study, a form of aggression hypothesized to be typical of girls, relational aggression, was assessed with a peer nomination instrument for a sample of 491 third- through sixth-grade children. Overt aggression (i.e., physical and verbal aggression as assessed in past research) and social-psychological adjustment were also assessed. Results provide evidence for the validity and distinctiveness of relational aggression. Further, they indicated that, as predicted, girls were significantly more relationally aggressive than were boys. Results also indicated that relationally aggressive children may be at risk for serious adjustment difficulties (e.g., they were significantly more rejected and reported significantly higher levels of loneliness, depression, and isolation relative to their nonrelationally aggressive peers).