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J Sch Psychol. 2007 Oct;45(5):549-565.

Norm-Narrowing and Self- and Other-Perceived Aggression in Early-Adolescent Same-Sex and Mixed-Sex Cliques.

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Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University.


We examined the relations between group context and self- and other-perceptions of aggressive behavior in an ethnically-diverse sample of 168 male and female grade 7 adolescents. We used self- and peer-reports of aggression in high- and average-aggressive mixed-sex and same-sex cliques to examine whether group members would assimilate their self-report of aggression to the aggression report of their peers by way of perceived homophily or, conversely, engage in contrast and see their level of aggression as comparatively low in the face of high-aggression peers. Among boys in mixed-sex groups, comparison with highly-aggressive others resulted in a self-perception of lower levels of aggression than those perceived by their peers. Conversely, girls in mixed-sex groups reported their own levels of aggression to be higher than those perceived by their peers. We interpret these findings in terms of the notion of "norm narrowing": rather than being set by the larger social environment, such as the school, norms are more narrowly determined within one's immediate peer group.

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