Presentation Title

Bad Blood: Is it more stressful to be victimized by friends than by peers?

Abstract

Childhood peer victimization may be especially problematic when it occurs in the context of a friendship because peer victimization undermines the support that is usually fostered in friendships (Crick & Nelson, 2002). Further, concerns about the status of friendships, which may occur when friends are also the perpetrators of aggression, may lead to activation of the body’s stress response system (Rudolph, 2002). Thus, we hypothesized that children would experience higher physiological reactivity when recounting an experience of being aggressed against by a friend than a non-friend. Furthermore, as girls are socialized to value close, dyadic relationships (Block, 1983; Crick & Nelson, 2002; Rose & Rudolph, 2006), we hypothesized that, compared to boys, girls would show higher physiological stress reactivity when being aggressed against by a friend as opposed to a non-friend. Ninety-nine participants (50.5% female; M = 10.46 years) completed a semi-structured interview detailing a recent experience of peer victimization while their skin conductance reactivity (SCL-R) was measured. Friendship status of the perpetrator (0= friend, 1= nonfriend), as well as victim gender (0= female, 1= male) were rated during qualitative coding of the interview transcripts. Correlational analyses indicated a positive correlation between aggressor friendship status and gender, r(92) = .242, p =.02, such that girls were more likely than boys to be victimized by friends. However, contrary to study hypotheses, neither gender (F[1,87] = .563, p =.455), friendship status (F[1,87] = 1.656, p =.202), nor the interaction between these two variables (F[1,87] = .145, p =.704) were associated with SCL-R. These results suggest that friendship status and aggressor gender during an instance of peer victimization were unrelated to physiological stress reactivity. Characteristics of our sample, including its homogeneity, cross-sectionality, and small size, may explain our null results. Implications, limitations, and future directions will be discussed.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Dianna Murray-Close

Graduate Student Mentors

Alexandra Sullivan, Maria Lent

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Psychological Science

Primary Research Category

Social Sciences

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Bad Blood: Is it more stressful to be victimized by friends than by peers?

Childhood peer victimization may be especially problematic when it occurs in the context of a friendship because peer victimization undermines the support that is usually fostered in friendships (Crick & Nelson, 2002). Further, concerns about the status of friendships, which may occur when friends are also the perpetrators of aggression, may lead to activation of the body’s stress response system (Rudolph, 2002). Thus, we hypothesized that children would experience higher physiological reactivity when recounting an experience of being aggressed against by a friend than a non-friend. Furthermore, as girls are socialized to value close, dyadic relationships (Block, 1983; Crick & Nelson, 2002; Rose & Rudolph, 2006), we hypothesized that, compared to boys, girls would show higher physiological stress reactivity when being aggressed against by a friend as opposed to a non-friend. Ninety-nine participants (50.5% female; M = 10.46 years) completed a semi-structured interview detailing a recent experience of peer victimization while their skin conductance reactivity (SCL-R) was measured. Friendship status of the perpetrator (0= friend, 1= nonfriend), as well as victim gender (0= female, 1= male) were rated during qualitative coding of the interview transcripts. Correlational analyses indicated a positive correlation between aggressor friendship status and gender, r(92) = .242, p =.02, such that girls were more likely than boys to be victimized by friends. However, contrary to study hypotheses, neither gender (F[1,87] = .563, p =.455), friendship status (F[1,87] = 1.656, p =.202), nor the interaction between these two variables (F[1,87] = .145, p =.704) were associated with SCL-R. These results suggest that friendship status and aggressor gender during an instance of peer victimization were unrelated to physiological stress reactivity. Characteristics of our sample, including its homogeneity, cross-sectionality, and small size, may explain our null results. Implications, limitations, and future directions will be discussed.