Italian preschoolers' peer-status linkages with sociability and subtypes of aggression and victimization
Little is known about the behavior of preschool children belonging to peer sociometric status groups (popular, average, rejected, neglected, and controversial) in cultural contexts outside North America. This study examined the social interactions of Italian preschoolers. The sample consisted of 266 Italian preschoolers (mean age of 64 months). Physical and relational subtypes of aggression and victimization, as well as sociable behavior, were measured by peer nominations and teacher ratings. Peer nominations of acceptance and rejection (like and dislike nominations) were also collected in order to form the sociometric status groups. Results of confirmatory factor analyses showed that items developed with US preschoolers appeared to work fairly well in identifying behavioral constructs in Italian preschoolers. Findings generally supported previous research with American preschoolers. Sociometrically popular children were highest in sociability, and lowest in physical and relational aggression and victimization. The opposite pattern emerged for rejected status children. Neglected status children were generally not distinguished from average status children. Results also suggested that the enactment of relational aggression promotes greater social impact for some Italian children (controversial children), and this aggression also invites more conflict and victimization. However, the sociability of controversial children appears to buffer them from rejected group status. © Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2009.