Heightened emotional sensitivity intensifies associations between relational aggression and victimization among girls but not boys: A longitudinal study
Founded in the social process model, the aim of this study was to identify whether the associations of relational aggression with concurrent and subsequent relational victimization differed depending on early adolescents' personal vulnerabilities and gender. The vulnerabilities of interest were social-information processing variables that convey greater emotional sensitivity, including rejection sensitivity, fear of negative evaluation, and avoidance of intimacy. Participants were 358 early adolescents (176 boys, 178 girls) aged 9 to 13 years. Relational aggression and victimization were assessed via peer nominations, whereas the three indicators of emotional sensitivity were assessed via self-report. Overall, results revealed greater relational aggression at Time 1 to be associated with greater relational victimization at both Time 1 and Time 2. However, this finding was qualified by both emotional sensitivity and gender. When considered separately, girls who were relationally aggressive and emotionally sensitive were at increased risk of victimization at both assessment points. In contrast, no link was found between relational aggression and victimization for boys, although relational vulnerabilities did have unique associations with boys' relational victimization. These findings have implications for our understanding of relational aggression and victimization, as well as for the development of interventions aimed at reducing these problems.
Development and Psychopathology
Psychology not elsewhere classified