Children’s social cognition concerning proactive aggression.
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In this study, 6- and 9-year-old children (N = 258) observed two instances of proactive aggression (one relational and the other direct aggression) that were committed by members of a group toward out-group members. Participants were either members of the group or independent observers. Analyses of participants' social cognition about the aggressor and the aggression (cause of aggression, moral judgment of aggression, attitudes toward the aggressor, and exclusion of the aggressor) indicated that, overall, group members were more positive toward aggressors than were independent observers. Although intergroup competition was perceived to be the cause of the aggression, participants disapproved of both types of aggression (especially direct aggression), disapproval increased with age, and girls disapproved of relational aggression more than did boys. Group members' social cognition about the aggressor and the aggression comprised a coherent cognitive process for both types of aggression, but the observers' process was simpler and differed by aggression type.
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Developmental Psychology and Ageing