Overt and relational aggression on the playground: Correspondence among different informants

Mary Kay McNeilly-Choque, Brigham Young University
Craig H. Hart, Brigham Young University
Clyde C. Robinson, Brigham Young University
Larry J. Nelson, Brigham Young University
Susanne F. Olsen, Brigham Young University


Recent research has focused on subtypes of children's aggressive behavior (e.g., instrumental, bullying, relational). However, little work with preschool children has explored intermethod agreement involving teacher ratings, peer behavior nominations, and playground behavior observations for these three different forms of aggression. This study attempted to fill this gap in the literature by using all three methods to examine aggressive subtypes of playground behavior in preschool as related to SES and gender. Data involving aggressive behavior of 241 4- to 5-year-old children in Head Start and university preschool programs were collected from peers, teachers, and observers. Results indicated that peers, teachers, and observers differentiated between general categories of relational aggression and overt aggression. However, peers did not distinguish between overt instrumental and bullying aggression. Peers viewed relational aggression, but not overt aggression, as being associated with anger and overt aggression with being mean. Observation, peer, and teacher scores were found to have greater intermethod agreement for overt rather than relational aggression. This pattern of findings was generally stronger for boys than for girls. Males tended to be rated and observed as more overtly aggressive, whereas females tended to be rated and observed as more relationally aggressive. Higher SES children were rated as displaying more verbal and nonverbal forms of relational aggression, whereas lower SES children were rated as engaging in more overt bullying aggression. Finally, more overtly and relationally aggressive children were less accepted by peers, with overt aggression being more strongly linked to rejection for boys and relational aggression being related to rejection for girls. © 1996 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.