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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2005;9(3):212-30.

An integrated review of indirect, relational, and social aggression.

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Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Great Britain.


Over the last decade, researchers have found that girls may be just as aggressive as boys when manipulative forms of aggression, such as gossiping and spreading rumors, are included. These forms of aggression are known by 3 different names: indirect aggression, relational aggression, and social aggression. This review examines their commonalities and differences, and concludes that they are essentially the same form of aggression. We show that analogous forms are not found in other species. We offer a functional account: indirect aggression is an alternative strategy to direct aggression, enacted when the costs of direct aggression are high, and whose aim is to socially exclude, or harm the social status of, a victim. In this light, we consider sex differences and developmental trends and the impact of this aggression on victims. We conclude that indirect, relational, and social aggression are much more similar than they are different, and we suggest ways in which future research can be facilitated by integrating the three areas under an adaptive framework.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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