Predicting dating behavior from aggression and self‐perceived social status in adolescence
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We investigated the longitudinal associations between self-reported aggression, self-perceived social status, and dating in adolescence using an intrasexual competition theoretical framework. Participants consisted of 536 students in Grade 9 (age 15), recruited from a community sample, who were assessed on a yearly basis until they were in Grade 11 (age 17). Adolescents self-reported their use of direct and indirect aggression, social status, and number of dating partners. A cross-lagged panel model that controlled for within-time covariance and across-time stability while examining cross-lagged pathways was used to analyze the data. The findings revealed that direct aggression did not predict dating behavior and was negatively associated with self-perceived social status in Grade 10. Self-perceived social status in Grade 9 was positively associated with greater use of indirect aggression in Grade 10. Regarding dating, in Grade 9, self-perceived social status positively predicted more dating partners the following year, while in Grade 10, it was higher levels of indirect aggression that predicted greater dating activity the following year. Overall, there were no significant sex differences in the model. The study supports the utility of evolutionary psychological theory in explaining peer aggression, and suggests that although social status can increase dating opportunities, as adolescents mature, indirect aggression becomes the most successful and strategic means of competing intrasexually and gaining mating advantages.
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