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The Role of Social-Emotional Factors in Bystanders' Judgments and Responses to Peer Aggression and Following Retaliation in Adolescence

NCJ Number
Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Dated: 2019
Date Published
8 pages
This study examined how social-emotional factors are related to bystanders' responses to aggression and possible retaliation.

Study participants were sixth and ninth graders (N = 896, 52.8 percent female) who indicated how likely they would be to intervene if they observed an initial aggressive act and then following retaliation. Hierarchical regression models were used to examine social-emotional predictors of bystander judgments and responses. Findings indicate that participants with high effortful control and transgressor justice sensitivity were more likely to evaluate bystander intervention as more acceptable. Furthermore, youth with higher affective empathy, sympathy, and observer justice sensitivity were more likely to report that they would engage in active bystander responses; whereas, youth with higher negative affect and rejection sensitivity were more likely to report that they would engage in inactive responses to aggression. These findings have important implications for understanding how individual differences in social-emotional factors relate to bystander attitudes and responses to initial aggressive acts and to possible retribution. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019