Prosocial children, bullies and victims: An investigation of their sociometric status, empathy and social problem-solving strategies


Department of Psychology, University of Strathclyde, 40 George Street, Glasgow G1 1QE UK (e-mail:


This study investigates links between children's social behaviour and their sociometric status, empathy and social problem-solving strategies. Sociometric ratings were obtained from a sample of 131 9–10-year-old children drawn from two matched schools. Each child also completed a newly developed and empirically derived Social Behaviour Questionnaire. This questionnaire led to the identification of 21 prosocial children, 23 bullies and 14 victims of bullying. Children in these subgroups were then assessed on measures of empathy and social problem-solving. Prosocial children were significantly more popular than the other role groups, and bully-victims were most frequently rejected by their peers. Prosocial children also showed greater empathic awareness than either bullies or victims, but gender was the significant source of variance. Prosocial children and victims responded more constructively than did bullies to socially awkward situations, and bullies were less aware than prosocial children of the possible negative consequences of their solution strategies.