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Alberti Center Colloquium Series - Dr. Jamie Ostrov

"Prospective Associations Between Aggression and Peer Victimization"

Jamie M. Ostrov, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, University at Buffalo

April 19, 2012

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Alberti Center Colloquium Series - Dr. Jamie Ostrov

  1. 1. Prospective associations between aggression and peer victimization Jamie M. Ostrov, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Psychology Director, Social Development Laboratory Department of PsychologyFaculty Affiliate, Dr. Jean M. Alberti Center for the Prevention of Bullying Abuse and School Violence University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Alberti Center Colloquium Series, April 2012
  2. 2. • Please note: Some unpublished content from the original talk was removed from this handout.
  3. 3. Acknowledgments• UB Social Development Lab (Research assistants listed on website) – Emily Ries, M.S., Kirstin Grös, Ph.D., Stephanie Godleski, M.A., Chris Bailey, B.S., Adam Mullins, M.A., Emily Hart, M.A., Kim Kamper, B.A., Alyssa Tevens, EdM, & Jilynn Werth, B.S.• Emil Coccaro, M.D. (University of Chicago)• Nicki R. Crick, Ph.D. (University of Minnesota)• Greta Massetti, Ph.D. (Center’s for Disease Control)• Annie Murray-Close, Ph.D. (University of Vermont)• David Nelson, Ph.D. (Brigham Young University)• Nicole Werner, Ph.D. (Washington State University)• Participating families, teachers & directors• NICHD R03HD059781 (NICHD ECCRN and SECCYD Staff)
  4. 4. Overview• Definitions and Background• Links between aggression and peer victimization• Links between peer victimization and aggression – Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, & Late Adolescence• Is intervention needed? – What have we tried to do to intervene?• Bullying in Early Childhood (Preliminary Data)
  5. 5. Definitions• Aggression: The intent to hurt, harm or injure another person (Coie & Dodge, 1998)• Physical Aggression: Using physical force or threat of physical acts to hurt or harm. – Ex: Hit, Kick, Bite, Punch, Push, Take Toys/Property from others. 5
  6. 6. Toward a Gender-Balanced Approach• Physical Aggression• Relational Aggression: Using the removal or threat of the removal of the relationship as the vehicle of harm – Ex: Malicious gossip, rumors, & lies, Exclude from play/group; Ignore (Silent treatment). • Direct: “You can’t come to my birthday party” or “You are not my friend anymore” • Covert: Spreading malicious rumors through a third person
  7. 7. Evidence from Past StudiesRelational (and Physical) aggression exists during early childhood (3-5 years) & may be observed in both naturalistic and more structured contexts.Relational (and Physical) aggression is associated with problems in early childhood Group level (e.g., peer rejection) Dyadic level (e.g., parent-child conflict) Individual level (e.g., deception, lying)There are reliable gender differences for relational (and physical) aggression in early childhood (Relational aggression is modal type for girls)Ostrov (2008) Journal of Abnormal Child PsychologyOstrov (2010) Child DevelopmentOstrov & Keating (2004) Social DevelopmentOstrov et al. (2008) Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
  8. 8. Process or mechanisms of change– How do we become aggressive or victimized?– Social Process Model suggests that children become victimized by becoming rejected by our peers and that makes them an easy target (Boivin et al., 2001; see also Bierman, 2004).
  9. 9. Social Process Models in Early Childhood
  10. 10. Study #1a: Social Process Model Supports the Social Process Model
  11. 11. Study 1b Change the next slideN = 101 (61 girls); Measures: Observer ratings of aggression; Teacher reports ofexclusion (alpha > .70).
  12. 12. Study #1c:Reverse Direction of Effects?
  13. 13. Study 2: Social Process Model in Emerging Adulthood
  14. 14. In Sum (so far)• Direct Paths: – EC, MC, EA: Aggression Peer Victimization• Indirect Paths for original model: – EC: Aggression  Peer Rejection  Victimization• Indirect Paths for alternative model: – EA: Victimization  Exclusivity  Aggression – EA: Victimization  HAB-R  Aggression
  15. 15. Is relational aggression associated with serious problems? • Based on theory and prior work, one place to first examine is depression or internalizing problems
  16. 16. Study #3: Growth of Relational Aggression Murray-Close, Ostrov & Crick (2007) Development & Psychopathology• 689 (50% female) 3rd through 5th graders – 41 public elementary school classrooms (16 schools) – Diverse sample: 30% African American, 28% European American, 14% Hmong, 13% Latino, 4% Asian American, 4% Native American; 7% other ethnic groups – Lower to middle class SES• 3 time points (Fall, Spring, Fall) – Peer nomination of relational aggression – TRF: Internalizing symptoms
  17. 17. Growth of Relational Aggression in Middle Childhood Girls started higher than boys Associated w/ Internalizing 0.8 Problems (Depressive Symptoms) 0.7 0.6 0.5Relational Aggression Girls 0.4 Total Boys 0.3 Associated w/ Friendship Intimacy for girls only 0.2 Girls increased at a faster rate than boys 0.1 0 1 2 3 Assessment Period
  18. 18. Study #4: Relational & Physical Aggression & Internalizing & Externalizing Problems• Crick, Ostrov, & Werner (2006) Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology – Time 1 (3rd grade) and Time 2 (4th grade) – 106 classrooms & 40 elementary schools (n = 2,589, screening sample) • At time 1, peer nominations of Ragg/Pagg (focal child sample = 234 children; 115 girls) • Diverse: 18% African American, 4% Latino; 3% Native American, 2% Asian American, 2% Hmong; 60% European American
  19. 19. Study #4: Relational & Physical Aggression & Internalizing & Externalizing Problems• Major findings: – Relational and Physical Aggression were moderately stable for girls and boys. – Relationally aggressive children became significantly more withdrawn/anxious-depressed over 12 months compared to others. – Relationally aggressive children displayed a significant increase in somatic complaints. – Relationally aggressive children also were more likely than any other group to show increases in delinquency – Suggests the need for prevention & intervention efforts in middle childhood as well!
  20. 20. Forms and Functions of Aggression in Late Adolescence/Adulthood Are the behaviors (relational subtypes) still associated with problems?
  21. 21. Study 5• We used the SRASBM in a large sample (N = 1387) of adults in study 1 – Only reactive relational aggression was associated with history of childhood maltreatment • Similar findings have been found with reactive physical aggression (Dodge et al., 1997)
  22. 22. Murray-Close et al. (2010) study 2 50 participants meeting Research Criteria for Intermittent Explosive Dx 50 participants meeting DSM-IV Criteria for Axis 1 (25) or 2 (25) 50 Healthy controls
  23. 23. Evidence-based Interventions
  24. 24. Intervention during Early Childhood• Why do we need to intervene? – Aggressive Behavior is relatively Stable – Aggressive Behavior is associated with maladaptive outcomes in EC & Later• When should we do something about it? – We have a higher probability of change early• How should we intervene? • UB EC Friendship Project
  25. 25. • Guided by appropriate theory and evidence- based practices• Use of developmentally appropriate intervention materials• Empirical test our hypotheses
  26. 26. Ostrov et al. (2009) ECRQ• Design: – Randomly Assigned to Intervention (9 classes, 202 children) vs. Control (9 classes, 201 children)• 6 weeks• Focus on both +/- Behavior• Reinforcement of Behavior – Interventionist & Puppet in room (DAP) • “Identify good friendship skills” in other children • Clarified weekly skills to monitor comprehension – Participatory Activities & Concept Activities
  27. 27. 6 week program• Week 1 Introduction & Physical Aggression• Week 2 Social Exclusion• Week 3 Social Inclusion• Week 4 Friendship Withdrawal• Week 5 Friendship Formation• Week 6 Review & Graduation
  28. 28. Treatment Fidelity• Content checklists: 100% of material was covered in each session• Process evaluations: (7 point scale from 1 “Superior” to 7 “Inadequate”) M = 1.78 (SD = .44) – Interventionists were rated as “warm, developmentally appropriate, with good pacing and high levels of child engagement”
  29. 29. Findings: Evaluations
  30. 30. UB Intervention Study• Findings
  31. 31. Future Direction:Bullying in Early Childhood
  32. 32. Bullying in Early Childhood• Aggression – Takes several forms• Power Imbalance• Usually Repetition (or fear of)-------------------------------• Usually Proactive (goal oriented)
  33. 33. Bullying• What is it not? – Not all aggression is bullying. • Not reactive • Not among friends (equal status peers)
  34. 34. Bullying in EC?• We know that • Bullying does exist Bulling does exist in preschool at the same rate in classrooms and kindergarten there is even relative to older evidence that school age children children will take on the role of “defenders” of the victim in EC (Belacci & Farina, 2010)
  35. 35. Bullying in Early Childhood: Webisodes• 02/thats-bullying.html is an official U.S. Government Web site managed by the Department of Health & Human Services in partnership with the Department of Education and Department of Justice
  36. 36. • EME was associated with future relational aggression. (We have replicated this finding)• Relational Aggression is modeled at high rates on many “educational programs”. Modeling the content & not learning lesson at the end of the show
  37. 37. In Conclusion• Both forms of aggression are apparent as young as 3- years-old• Bi-directional associations between aggression and peer victimization• Support for social process model and points of intervention (Associations with problems in EC, MC, EA, & Adult)• Intervention is warranted – Evidence-based interventions are only beginning but suggest promising effects• Bullying exists in young children & requires attention
  38. 38. Questions
  39. 39. Thank you!• Recent publications available at: