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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2008 Nov;36(8):1289-99. doi: 10.1007/s10802-008-9251-7.

Beyond the class norm: bullying behavior of popular adolescents and its relation to peer acceptance and rejection.

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University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


This study examined to what extent bullying behavior of popular adolescents is responsible for whether bullying is more or less likely to be accepted or rejected by peers (popularity-norm effect) rather than the behavior of all peers (class norm). Specifically, the mean level of bullying by the whole class (class norm) was split into behavior of popular adolescents (popularity-norm) and behavior of non-popular adolescents (non-popularity-norm), and examined in its interaction with individual bullying on peer acceptance and peer rejection. The data stem from a peer-nominations subsample of TRAILS, a large population-based sample of adolescent boys and girls (N = 3,312). The findings of multilevel regression analyses demonstrated that the negative impact of individual bullying on peer acceptance and the positive impact on peer rejection were particularly weakened by bullying by popular adolescents. These results place the class-norm effects found in previous person-group dissimilarity studies in a different light, suggesting that particularly bullying by popular adolescents is related to the social status attached to bullying.

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