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Youth Perceptions of Guilt Induction in Response to Peer Aggression: Variation by Respondent and Aggressive Act

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Inductive discipline can reduce problem behavior and promote moral internalization, but its use for peer aggression in adolescence in unknown. Therefore, this study examined student's expected emotional and behavioral reactions to inductive discipline statements following different types of peer aggression, as enacted by different socialization agents. A total of 209 middle school (Mage = 12.29 years) and 266 high school (Mage = 15.86 years) students (68% female, 39.4% White, 37.7% Black) participated by responding to three vignettes varying in socialization agent (parent, teacher, peer) and the type of aggression (physical, verbal, exclusion, cyber). Students imagined engaging in an act of peer aggression and hearing a socialization agent say “I’m really disappointed in what you did. You hurt them and know better than to behave like that”. Ratings (1-5 scale) focused on elicited moral emotions, effectiveness, and acceptability of the inductive statements.

A series of 3 (socialization agent) x 4 (aggression type) x 2 (gender) x 2 (age group) x 4 (race) repeated measures ANOVAs, with socialization agent as the repeated measure, were conducted on adolescents’ ratings of inductive discipline statements. Students expected inductive statements to make them feel moderately guilty, ashamed, and empathetic in addition to being moderately effective and acceptable. Generally, statements by parents, and those rated by girls and White students, appeared more effective, acceptable, and elicited more moral emotions. Peer inductions became more acceptable but no more effective with age. Results highlight the importance of incorporating parents and inductive discipline training into peer aggression interventions.

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Youth Perceptions of Guilt Induction in Response to Peer Aggression: Variation by Respondent and Aggressive Act

Inductive discipline can reduce problem behavior and promote moral internalization, but its use for peer aggression in adolescence in unknown. Therefore, this study examined student's expected emotional and behavioral reactions to inductive discipline statements following different types of peer aggression, as enacted by different socialization agents. A total of 209 middle school (Mage = 12.29 years) and 266 high school (Mage = 15.86 years) students (68% female, 39.4% White, 37.7% Black) participated by responding to three vignettes varying in socialization agent (parent, teacher, peer) and the type of aggression (physical, verbal, exclusion, cyber). Students imagined engaging in an act of peer aggression and hearing a socialization agent say “I’m really disappointed in what you did. You hurt them and know better than to behave like that”. Ratings (1-5 scale) focused on elicited moral emotions, effectiveness, and acceptability of the inductive statements.

A series of 3 (socialization agent) x 4 (aggression type) x 2 (gender) x 2 (age group) x 4 (race) repeated measures ANOVAs, with socialization agent as the repeated measure, were conducted on adolescents’ ratings of inductive discipline statements. Students expected inductive statements to make them feel moderately guilty, ashamed, and empathetic in addition to being moderately effective and acceptable. Generally, statements by parents, and those rated by girls and White students, appeared more effective, acceptable, and elicited more moral emotions. Peer inductions became more acceptable but no more effective with age. Results highlight the importance of incorporating parents and inductive discipline training into peer aggression interventions.

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