Risk factors for relational aggression among college students in peer relationships

Amanda Robyn Schwartz, Fordham University


Through the social information processing framework, this study assessed the relationships among specific cognitive and interpersonal risk factors and relationally aggressive behavior in college students. Specifically, risk factors examined were hostile attribution bias, relational victimization, emotional sensitivity, and rejection sensitivity. Gender differences were also considered. Amazon's Mechanical Turk online subject pool was used to recruit a sample of 294 subjects who completed a self-report measure. Participants reported relatively low levels of relationally aggressive behavior overall. Results revealed that relational victimization was the strongest predictor of both reactive and proactive relational aggression, and hostile attribution bias was a significant predictor of reactive relational aggression, but was not a significant predictor of proactive relational aggression. Analyses also revealed that the relationship between prior relational victimization, emotional sensitivity, and proactive relational aggression is complex. Males reported higher levels of proactive relational aggression than females, and the relationship between relational victimization and reactive relational aggression was found to be positive and statistically significant for both males and females, but stronger for males. Implications for future research and clinical practice are discussed.

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Schwartz, Amanda Robyn, "Risk factors for relational aggression among college students in peer relationships" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3560274.