Date of Award

Summer 6-2023

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

School

Psychology

Committee Chair

Eric Dahlen, Ph.D

Committee Chair School

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Melanie Leuty, Ph.D

Committee Member 2 School

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Emily Yowell, Ph.D

Committee Member 3 School

Psychology

Abstract

Relational aggression (i.e., a type of aggression in which the aggressor harms others by damaging their relationships, reputation, and/or feelings of social acceptance) is common among emerging adults and has been linked to several adverse correlates. Research on relational aggression among college students has found some evidence that it is positively associated with social anxiety; however, the specific components of social anxiety and the possible mechanisms through which this relationship may operate are unclear. The current study examined the relationship between social anxiety and relational aggression among college women (N = 292), focusing on fear of negative evaluation (FNE) as the component of social anxiety most likely to be relevant to relational aggression based on Andrews and colleagues’ (2019) application of Dodge and Crick’s (1990) Social Information Processing (SIP) theory. We expected that FNE would be positively related to relational aggression, that hostile attribution bias would mediate this relationship, and that dispositional empathy would moderate the direct relationship between social anxiety and relational aggression. Results demonstrated that FNE was not related to relational aggression and that hostile attribution did not mediate their predicted relationship, nor did dispositional empathy moderate this relationship. Post-hoc analyses revealed that the broader social anxiety construct had a stronger relationship with relational aggression than FNE and that hostile attribution bias mediated this relationship.

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