Date of Award

Summer 8-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Eric Dahlen

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Melanie Leuty

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Bonnie Nicholson

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Kevin Wells

Committee Member 4 School



Relational aggression involves behavior intended to harm victims’ social status or reputation through acts like manipulation, gossip, exclusion, and blackmail. Most of the research on relational aggression has focused on children and early adolescents, with college students receiving some attention in recent years. A smaller body of work supports the relevance of relational aggression among adults in workplace settings, marital relationships, and assisted-living facilities. While few studies with adults have been integrated into the literature on relational aggression, they provide evidence that these behaviors continue into adulthood. The current study explored relational aggression among women between the ages of 18 and 65 using social information processing theory (SIP; Crick & Dodge, 1994) to examine the pathway from relational victimization to relational aggression. A moderated mediation model tested via structural equation modeling showed that relational victimization predicted relational aggression, that this relationship was partially mediated by hostile attribution bias and anger rumination, and that normative beliefs about relational aggression moderated some of these mediated relationships. Specifically, normative beliefs strengthened the relationships of relational victimization and hostile attribution bias to relational aggression. Invariance testing compared the model across three developmental groups (i.e., emerging, established, and middle adulthood) and supported model invariance. Results highlight the continued relevance of relational aggression for adult women and support the role of anger rumination, hostile attribution bias, and perceived acceptability of relational aggression in the relationship between relational victimization and aggression.