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Keywords:

  • group norms;
  • bullying;
  • children;
  • identity

Abstract

A minimal group study examined the effect of peer group norms on children's direct and indirect bullying intentions. Prior to an inter-group drawing competition, children (N = 85) aged seven and nine years were assigned to a group that had a norm of out-group dislike or out-group liking. Results indicated that, regardless of group norms, the children's attitudes were more positive towards the in-group vs. the out-group. Children's bullying intentions were greater when the in-group had a norm of out-group dislike vs. out-group liking, the children were younger rather than older, and the bullying was indirect vs. direct. A three-way interaction showed that the in-group norms had a larger effect on the younger children's direct rather than indirect bullying intentions, but a larger effect on the older children's indirect rather than direct bullying intentions. Implications for understanding school bullying intentions and behaviour are discussed.