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The Protective Role of Teacher Preference for At-Risk Children's Social Status


  • Contract grant sponsor: James M. Jeffords Center; Contract grant sponsor: Child and Adolescent Training and Research Inc.

Correspondence to: Christina C. Moore, Department of Psychology, University of Vermont, 2 Colchester Ave., Burlington, VT 05405.



Aggressive behaviors have been associated with social costs (e.g., rejection) and benefits (e.g., popularity) in previous studies. The current study sought to examine the moderating effect of teacher preference on the association between distinct forms of aggressive behavior (i.e., physical aggression and relational aggression) and social status (i.e., rejection and popularity), and to explore whether these associations differed for boys and girls. Fourth and fifth grade students (N = 193) completed peer nomination procedures to assess rejection and aggressive behavior and teachers provided self-reports of their preferences for their students. Findings indicated that relationally aggressive girls were more likely to be popular with their peers when their teachers also liked them. In addition, both relationally and physically aggressive girls were less likely to be rejected by their peers when their teachers liked them. Although physical aggression was most strongly associated with rejection among boys whose teachers liked them, relational aggression predicted popularity among boys whose teachers disliked them. Results suggest that teacher preferences may be a particularly important factor contributing to both physically and relationally aggressive children's social status (e.g., rejection and popularity), especially for girls. Aggr. Behav. 38:481-493, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.