Direct and Indirect Aggression During Childhood and Adolescence

A Meta-Analytic Review of Gender Differences, Intercorrelations, and Relations to Maladjustment

Published in: Child Development, v. 79, no. 5, Sep./Oct. 2008, p. 1185–1229

Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2008

by Noel A. Card, Brian D. Stucky, Gita M. Sawalani, Todd D. Little

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This meta-analytic review of 148 studies on child and adolescent direct and indirect aggression examined the magnitude of gender differences, intercorrelations between forms, and associations with maladjustment. Results confirmed prior findings of gender differences (favoring boys) in direct aggression and trivial gender differences in indirect aggression. Results also indicated a substantial intercorrelation ( = .76) between these forms. Despite this high intercorrelation, the 2 forms showed unique associations with maladjustment: Direct aggression is more strongly related to externalizing problems, poor peer relations, and low prosocial behavior, and indirect aggression is related to internalizing problems and higher prosocial behavior. Moderation of these effect sizes by method of assessment, age, gender, and several additional variables were systematically investigated.

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