This study examined how ethnically diverse victimized adolescents described third-party actions that amplified their anger and calmed their emotionsand whether there were gender, racial/ethnic, or school-level patterns.
Third-party adolescents (those aware of peer conflict as neither aggressors nor victims) can help shape their peers' emotional responses to perceived victimization. Emotion regulation promotes resilience for those who have been victimized, and heightened anger can exacerbate negative outcomes. The current study obtained data from 264 structured interviews, using a multi-method, repeated measures design. Participants were 66 African-Americans, 57 European-Americans, 64 Mexican-Americans, and 77 Native-Americans from the Northwest United States. Open- and process-coding identified 16 themes that described third-party actions, and pattern coding provided insight into why particular actions may be perceived as anger-amplifying or calming. Wilcoxon Signed Rank tests on action frequencies revealed five actions (e.g., co-ruminating) that were associated with amplifying victims' anger and eight actions (e.g., reassuring) that were associated with calming victims' emotions. Group patterns were examined using chi-square and Mann-Whitney tests. Programs and interventions may draw on these qualitative accounts of victimized adolescents' experiences to illustrate how third-party actions might differentially impact peers during or after aggressive incidents. (publisher abstract modified)
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