College of Arts & Sciences

Date of Award

Spring 5-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Spencer K. Thompson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Linda Montgomery, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gregory Harter, Ph.D.

Abstract

As female juvenile delinquency for violence increases, the need for understanding the development of aggression as it relates to girls is also increasing. Most often, aggression is described and measured in terms of overt behaviors meant to cause physical harm and these behaviors have been found most commonly in boys. However, more recent research indicates that girls possess a relational aggression that can be best described as behaviors such as gossiping, exclusion and threatening friendships or any behavior that means to harm the relationship. In this research, these aggressive behaviors are studied to determine their relationship to emotional regulation; that is, the ability to change behaviors associated with activated emotions. It was also hypothesized and shown that girls are relationally aggressive and boys are more physically aggressive. A series of five surveys were given to three groups of eighth graders at two different schools and then a multi-trait multimethod analysis was applied to the peer, teacher and self assessments to determine the aggressive nature of students. This information was compared to students’ self assessments of internal/external and functional/dysfunctional abilities of emotional regulation. It was determined that dysfunctional external emotional regulation is significantly related to relational aggression in girls. IV

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