Date of Award

Winter 12-7-2018

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

School

Psychology

Committee Chair

Eric Dahlen, PhD

Committee Chair School

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Bonnie Nicholson, PhD

Committee Member 2 School

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Michael Madson, PhD

Committee Member 3 School

Psychology

Abstract

Social intelligence has been identified as one of many predictors of relational aggression. It is likely that a certain level of social intelligence may be necessary for relationally aggressive behaviors to be effective (e.g., some ability to understand human behavior is necessary to effectively harm others through the manipulation of status, social relationships, or sense of belonging). And yet, social intelligence is unlikely to be sufficient to produce relationally aggressive behavior. Merely because someone has the requisite levels of social intelligence to use relational aggression does not mean that he or she will be motivated to do so. There is some evidence that empathy moderates the relationship between relational aggression and social intelligence (i.e., high empathy may suppress the relationship between relational aggression and social intelligence). We used hierarchical multiple regression to examine psychopathic personality traits as a potential moderator of the predicted relationship between relational aggression and social intelligence in a college student sample (N = 274). As predicted, psychopathic traits moderated the relationship between relational aggression and social intelligence (i.e., as psychopathic traits increased, the relationship between social intelligence and relational aggression grew stronger); however, the relationship between social intelligence and relational aggression was negative. Thus, students higher in social intelligence endorsed less relationally aggressive behaviors.

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