Nonverbal sensitivity in aggressive adolescents

Tracy Dianne Smith


The most prominent social-information processing theory of children's social competence is a 6-step model proposed by Crick and Dodge (1994) that synthesizes research on aggressive youth and social competence. However, the role of encoding and decoding social cues has not been emphasized enough in studies examining social-information processing. In addition, a lack of communication seems to exist between researchers who work within a social-information processing framework and those who study nonverbal communication. Hence, the present study attempted to expand the social-information processing model by addressing questions about nonverbal sensitivity among aggressive adolescents in relation to their social competence. The sample consisted of fifty-two 16 to 18 year-old male adolescents living in an alternative residential school in Southern Mississippi. Type of aggression served as the independent variable, while nonverbal sensitivity, social competence, and hostile attributions served as dependent variables, with social desirability as the covariate. Unlike previous findings, partial correlation analyses revealed no significant relationship between social competence and nonverbal sensitivity. In addition, ANCOVA results revealed no significant relationship between aggressive type and nonverbal sensitivity. A chi-square analysis revealed no significant relationship between hostile attribution bias and aggressive type. Finally, ANCOVA results revealed a significant relationship between social competence and aggressive type. A summary of the findings, conclusions, implications, and limitations is presented, followed by recommendations for future research.