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Keywords:

  • motivation;
  • popularity;
  • bullying;
  • age-related differences

Abstract

This study investigated whether perceived popularity mediates and/or moderates the association between agentic goals and bullying, and whether sociometric popularity mediates and/or moderates the association between communal goals and bullying. Age and gender differences were also examined. Participants were 276 fourth and fifth graders (middle childhood sample) and 196 seventh and eighth graders (early adolescence sample). Peer status and bullying were assessed with sociometric measures, interpersonal goals with self-reports. The theoretical model included both mediation and moderation effects. An age-related reversal was found in how status mediated the associations between goals and bullying. Sociometric popularity mediated the association of agentic goals with bullying in middle childhood but of communal goals with bullying in early adolescence. Perceived popularity mediated the association of communal goals with bullying in middle childhood but of agentic goals with bullying in early adolescence. In middle childhood, perceived popularity also moderated the effect of agentic goals on bullying. The results were discussed in terms of the role of bullying as a means to enhance status in early adolescence.