Measuring non-physical forms of aggression in a sample of young women

Indirect and relational aggression cause serious emotional consequences for all age groups, particularly adolescent females. Both forms of aggression are intended to harm another by damaging or manipulating relationships through social exclusion, spreading rumors, threatening to withdraw friendship and other circuitous acts. These forms of aggression are more frequent than physical or overt verbal forms and they consist of covert and subtle behaviors which reduce the likelihood of consequences for the aggressor. Different methods have been used to study indirect and relational aggression (peer nomination and peer estimation respectively) and whether there are differences between these aggression constructs is under debate in the literature. This study examined the relationship between indirect and relational aggression and compared the measurement properties of peer estimation and peer nomination within the same sample of young women. Although a confound due to the different measurement techniques is apparent, the results indicate that indirect and relational aggression are at least moderately related and that these constructs demonstrate similar patterns of relationships with verbal aggression, prosocial behavior and empathy. Further inquiry about this frequent and hurtful behavior among young women would benefit from using identical methods for both indirect and relational aggression in the same sample to more clearly rule out measurement effects. Keywords: Females, Aggression, Peer estimation, Peer nomination, Multimethod, Multitrait