Social Dominance in Adolescence: The Moderating Role of the Classroom Context and Behavioral Heterogeneity


  • These data come from a large-scale German project directed by Jürgen Baumert of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. The first author thanks the International Max Planck Research School “The Life Course: Evolutionary and Ontogenetic Dynamics” (LIFE) for valuable feedback on this work. We also thank Susannah Goss for language editing.

concerning this article should be addressed to Kathrin Jonkmann, Center for Educational Research, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin, Germany. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study investigates socially dominant adolescents: students who are actively involved in establishing peer norms, influence their classmates’ opinions, and are often the center of attention. Data from 5,468 seventh graders (M age = 13.3; 53% girls) in 266 classrooms were used to examine how social dominance relates to achievement, peer acceptance and rejection, self-perception, and deviance and to investigate contextual moderators of these associations. Multilevel analyses confirmed social dominance to be associated with both positive and negative adjustment. Moreover, the associations with achievement and disruptive behavior were moderated by the normativeness of these behaviors within the classroom. Finally, latent profile analyses revealed 4 distinct types of highly dominant students, 2 well adjusted and 2 poorly adjusted.