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Keywords:

  • direct and indirect aggression;
  • social-cognitive mediation;
  • school

Abstract

Tested a theoretical model in which social cognitions about aggression partially mediated the relation of environmental and emotion regulation factors to children's aggressive behavior. An ethnically diverse sample of 778 children (57% girls) in grades 4–6 from both urban and suburban schools participated. Measures included exposure to aggression (seeing/hearing about aggression, victimization), emotion regulation (impulsivity, anger control), social cognitions about aggression (self-evaluation, self-efficacy, retaliation approval, aggressive fantasizing, caring about consequences), and aggressive behavior. Results supported the hypothesis that social cognitions mediate the relations of exposure to aggression and anger control to aggressive behavior. Also, social cognitions about direct and indirect aggression differentially predicted the respective behaviors with which they are associated. That is, social cognitions about direct aggression were mediators of direct aggressive behavior, whereas social cognitions about indirect aggression were mediators of indirect aggressive behavior. Finally, gender moderated the relations among the variables such that for girls, retaliation approval beliefs were a strong mediator, whereas for boys, self-evaluation was more important. Aggr. Behav. 30:389–408, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.