Social Likeability, Subtypes of Aggression, and the Attributional Style of Aggressive Youth


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Virginia Tech


Recent efforts to understand and predict the onset and maintenance of aggression have considered the heterogeneity of this behavior. Dodge (1980) and others, have suggested a distinction in aggression based on two primary subtypes: reactive and proactive aggression. The form, severity and persistence of these aggressive subtypes may depend on an on-going interaction between individual characteristics and environmental characteristics that elicit varying antecedents and consequences (Frick, 1998; Lahey et al., 1999). In particular, there exists some empirical support for the existence of relations among social likeability, attributional style, and particular subtypes of aggression symptomology. However, the exact nature of this relation is unclear.

The current study examined two competing models, the mediator and moderator models, to assess the nature of the relations among social likeability, attributional style, and aggression subtypes in a sample of 419 youth in a non-clinical community setting. Results suggest that the external, stable, global attributional style serves to mediate the relation between social likeability and reactive, but not proactive aggression. Implications for assessment and treatment of aggression in adolescents are discussed.



Adolescents, Proactive, Aggression, Reactive, Attributional Style