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Participant Roles in Aggression: Analysis of the Relational Aggression Participant Role Scale 1Deborah

M. Casper, 2Russell B. Toomey and 1Noel A. Card 1University of Arizona, 2Arizona State University

Abstract

Results

Confirmatory Factor Analysis was used to evaluate the psychometric properties of the new Relational Aggression Participant Roles Scale(RAPRS) in a sample of 609 middle school students. The model adequately fit the data. Relational aggression participant roles parallel Salmivalli’s overt aggression participant roles. The scale demonstrated both convergent and divergent validity.

Background Although aggression and victimization are primarily dyadic phenomena, they often occur in situations where several members of the peer group are present and sometimes actively (or passively) participating. In the seminal work related to bullying as a group process, Salmivalli and colleagues (1996) identified distinct roles (e.g., aggressor, assistant, reinforcer, victim, defender, outsider) that children take when enacting aggression. Salmivalli’s work, with regard to participant roles, however, has focused on overt aggression.

In this proposal we analyze the psychometric properties of a new scale, the Relational Aggression Participant Role Scale (RAPRS), intended to identify distinct roles related to relational aggression that parallel Salmivalli’s overt aggression participant roles. We hypothesize that children and adolescents take similar roles while enacting relational aggression.

Methods Participants: N = 609, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students (mean age 12.03 years, SD = .91)

Measure: Self-report scale (RAPRS), 35 items, 12 subscales, three indicators each Procedure: Confirmatory factor analysis evaluated the structure of overt and relational participant roles. We hypothesized and fit a 12 factor model (2 forms X 6 roles). Inspection of plausible modifications indicated the need to add one dual loading (of “I listen or laugh when kids spread rumors about others” to relational assistance as well as reinforcer).

Table 2. Disattenuated Correlations Among Latent Participant Role Constructs 1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

• The modified model provided a significant improvement in model fit (Δχ2(1) = 157.04, p < .001) and fit the data adequately (χ2(493) = 2430.60, RMSEA = .08, CFI = .92).

1. Overt Aggression (OA)

1.00***

2. Overt Victimization

0.25***

1.00***

3. OA: Defender

-0.18***

0.18***

1.00***

4. OA: Assistant

0.91***

0.16***

-0.20*** 1.00***

5. OA: Reinforcer

0.78***

0.08*

-0.28*** 0.84***

1.00***

6. OA: Outsider

0.32***

0.05

-0.38*** 0.40***

0.45***

7. Relational Aggression (RA)

0.72***

0.26***

-0.13**

0.81***

0.58***

8. Relational Victimization

0.16***

0.80***

0.24***

0.16*** 0.05

9. RA: Defender

-0.17***

10. RA: Assistant

0.71***

11. RA: Reinforcer 12. RA: Outsider

• Individual items and unstandardized and standardized factor loadings for latent overt and relational aggression participant role constructs are available upon request 1.00***

0.32***

1.00***

0.03

0.35*** 1.00***

0.94*** -0.17*** -0.28***

-0.38***

-0.14** 0.26***

0.18***

-0.18*** 0.84***

0.75***

0.37***

0.99*** 0.24*** -0.19***

1.00***

0.21***

0.18***

0.33***

0.20***

0.27***

0.20***

0.35*** 0.28***

0.37***

0.40*** 1.00***

0.03

0.62***

0.04

0.06

0.04

0.03

0.11*

0.07

0.04

0.11**

12

0.12**

Conclusions and Implications 1.00***

• Overall, we found support for the hypothesized parallel overt and relational participant roles. 0.08

1.00***

• For both relational and overt forms, the roles of aggressor, assistant, and reinforcer were strongly correlated (though always less than 1.0, so they are separable). This is consistent with Salmivalli’s participant role scale (Salmivalli et al., 1998; Sutton & Smith, 1999).

• The role of defender has a small positive association with being a victim and small negative associations with aggressor, assistant, and reinforcer, again, consistent with previous work. • Participant roles for relational aggression tended to be correlated with parallel roles for overt aggression: aggressor, r = .72; victimization r = .80, defender, r = .94, assistant, r = .84, and reinforcer, r = .27, but not outsider, r = .03, ns. Each of these correlations was significantly less than 1.0, supporting the distinctiveness of participant roles across forms

• One reinforcer item loaded on both the reinforcer and assistant constructs. It is possible that this more “active” item of the reinforcer subscale fits better within the more active role of assistant. • We found support for both convergent and discriminate validity and results are in line with previous research involving overt aggression participant roles. • Future directions will include the exploration of measurement invariance across gender and ethnic groups and multiple informant comparisons as well as associations with adjustment.

Acknowledgements The authors acknowledge funding from the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families. The project described was supported by a grant (R21HD061345) from NICHD.

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