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Title: Perceived attachment security and aggression in 9- to 11 year old children
Authors: Michiels, Daisy
Grietens, Hans
Kuppens, Sofie
Onghena, Patrick #
Issue Date: Jul-2007
Conference: International Attachment Conference location:University of Minho, Braga, Portugal date:11-13 July 2007
Abstract: A considerable amount of research has been dedicated to the understanding of factors that are associated with the etiology of aggressive behavior. However, most of this work only included physical and verbal (overt) forms of aggression. In recent years, a diverse body of knowledge has been developed describing the descriptive features of relational aggression. This form of aggression refers to “behaviors that harm others through damage (or the threat of damage) to relationships or feelings of acceptance, friendship or group inclusion”. Consequently, at the heart of relational aggression lie acts focusing on manipulating and damaging interpersonal relationships in peer groups. To date, research on the etiology of relational aggression is limited. However, regardless of the theoretical perspective on the etiology of aggression, it is commonly agreed that in childhood and adolescence, relationships with significant others (e.g., parents, siblings, peers, and teachers) are the central social environments within which aggressive acts are displayed. While extensive research has looked into overt aggression, little research has examined parental influences on the development of relational aggression. One clear consequence of this absence is the lack of a clear view on the developmental and environmental contexts (such as peer, family, and school environments) in which relational aggression is displayed. A central tenet of attachment theory is the view that the quality of the relationship between parents and children shapes the child’s future relationships with others. Therefore, in this study, we explored the attachment theory perspective that has already been connected to children’s use of overt aggression to see if it might also be useful in understanding the origins of relational aggression (Michiels, Kuppens, Onghena, & Grietens, 2006). In this context, this study, which is part of a longitudinal study on the determinants of relational aggression in children, was carried out with a sample of 455 elementary school aged children between 9 and 11 years old. The purpose was to examine the relationships between perceived security of attachment and aggressive strategies including overt and relational forms of aggression. Data on aggression were collected through parent, teacher and peer report, whereas the perceived security of attachment to mother and father was collected through self report. Preliminary analyses showed negative correlations between the perceived security of attachment and overt aggression, mainly between the perceived security of attachment to mother and overt aggression as reported by the parents and teacher (r mother = -.139, r father = -.136, and r teacher = -.125, p< 0.01). Further, the perceived attachment security to father was negatively correlated with the teachers’ view on overt aggression (r = -.103, p< 0.05). Further analyses on the relationships between perceived attachment security and relational aggression will be explored and presented in the poster session.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Parenting and Special Education
Methodology of Educational Sciences
# (joint) last author

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