Daniel Deason Accepts Job at Ole Miss

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Daniel Deason is a lab alumnus who defended his dissertation in 2016. He is nearing the completion of his predoctoral internship at the Counseling Center at the University of Memphis. Daniel just let us know that he has accepted a position as a Staff Psychologist at the Counseling Center at the University of Mississippi.

We are currently working on a paper based on Daniel’s master’s thesis that examines the contribution of social anxiety to the Five Factor Model (Costa & McCrae, 1992) of personality in understanding relational aggression in college students.

Congratulations to Daniel on the new job!
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Lab Welcomes Morgan Lowe

The Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab is pleased to welcome Morgan Lowe, a student who will be entering the Counseling Psychology Master’s Program at the University of Southern Mississippi this Fall. Morgan completed her B.S. in psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi, so she is already familiar with the area. Her interests in forensic psychology, relational aggression, and anger make her a great fit for the lab. Her future career plans include working with juvenile offenders, and she hopes to pursue a doctorate in Counseling Psychology.

Congratulations to Morgan on her admission to the master’s program! We are looking forward to working with you.
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Caitlin Clark Defends Dissertation

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Caitlin Clark successfully defended her dissertation on Monday. She completed a complex and time-consuming instrument development project, starting with running focus groups for item generation, moving through exploratory factor analysis with one sample, and culminating in a confirmatory factor analysis and validation study with another sample.

In spite of the increased interest received by relational aggression among emerging adults, the lack of psychometrically sound measures appropriate for this age range continues to be an important barrier. Caitlin’s dissertation, Validation of the Young Adult Relational Aggression Scale (YARAS), attempted to confirm the hypothesized factor structure of a new measure as well as assess its reliability and validity in a college student sample.

Although she was able to identify a suitable factor structure, doing so required her to correlate several items and meant that the predicted structure could not technically be confirmed (i.e., the confirmatory procedures became exploratory). Nevertheless, we learned a great deal about the construct and the new measure that should inform future work aimed at refining the measure.

Congratulations to Caitlin on completing this important milestone!

Caitlin is currently completing her predoctoral internship at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Florida and has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship next year at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.
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Introducing Skylar Hicks

Skylar Hicks
Skylar Hicks is a second-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is originally from Louisiana, where she graduated from the University of New Orleans with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

As an undergraduate, Skylar was involved in two different research labs. The Stress Physiology in Teens (SPIT) Laboratory led her to examine the interplay between stress exposure, biological trajectories, and adolescent development in understanding why certain individuals develop psychopathology. Her time with the Youth Social and Emotional Development Laboratory was spent identifying social, emotional, and cognitive factors related to the development and maintenance of aggressive behavior in youth.

She applied to Southern Miss because the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab overlapped with her research interests in aggression. Skylar recently proposed her master’s thesis, The Role of Emotion Regulation in the Relationship between Trait Anger and Aggression, and is currently collecting data. She hopes to research other forms of aggression, such as sexual aggression. Skylar’s career interests include working in a maximum-security prison, as well as a psychiatric unit or major hospital.

When asked for advice concerning potential future applicants to our program, Skylar mentioned the importance of gaining research experience, as it can be helpful in defining a career path and in assessing which graduate programs best align with one’s personal research interests.
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Dark Personality and Cyber Aggression Presentation Accepted for SEPA

Atlanta Night Skyline Wallpaper
We just had a presentation proposal accepted for the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, which will take place in Atlanta in March. Taylor Bolton a second-year master's student working in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, will present research based on her master's project. Taylor's research focuses on the role of dark personality traits in electronic aggression among college students.

One of the challenges in this area of research involves the lack of consensus in how electronic aggression (aka, cyber aggression, cyberbullying) should be defined and measured (Berne et al., 2013). Taylor is using what appears to be one of the better self-report measures available for emerging adults, the Cyberbullying Experiences Survey (Doane et al., 2013). We anticipate that her findings will provide useful information about the relationship between electronic aggression and offline relational aggression and between various dark personality traits and electronic aggression.

Congratulations, Taylor!
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Daniel Deason Defends Dissertation

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Daniel Deason successfully defended his dissertation today. He did a fantastic job developing and executing a complex project, and it was great to see him complete this important milestone.

Although the literature on relational aggression among emerging adults has advanced considerably over the last couple decades, surprisingly little is known about the role of culture in general and the nature of relational aggression among LGBT persons in particular. Daniel's dissertation, Hypermasculine, antifeminine: The role of masculine identity in relational aggression among gay men, examined relational aggression and victimization among gay men using Exclusively Masculine Identity Theory (EMIT; Killanski, 2003). Daniel's study utilized structural equation modeling to test models derived from EMIT in an effort to learn more about the possible role of adherence to masculine ideology and sex stereotypically.

The men who participated in Daniel's study differed from those described in some of the previously published research in terms of the masculine and feminine traits they considered desirable. Contrary to what we expected, participants with an exclusively masculine identity (i.e., those who had a more masculine ideal self and a more feminine undesired self) reported lower rates of relational aggression. Thus, while EMIT was useful in predicting relational aggression, the direction of the relationship was not what was anticipated. Daniel's results also suggest that certain domains of masculine ideology may be more useful in predicting relational aggression and victimization than the full EMIT model.

Daniel is currently completing his predoctoral internship at the University of Memphis Counseling Center in Memphis, TN.

Congratulations, Daniel!
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Introducing Savannah Merold

Savannah Merold
Savannah Merold is a first year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is originally from Alabama and received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Southern Miss in 2016.

As an undergraduate, Savannah was involved in social and evolutionary psychology research. This resulted in her role as the second author of a 2016 paper published in Personality and Individual Differences. The paper, "Social and emotional intelligence moderate the relationship between psychopathy traits and social perception," reflects Savannah's interests in dark personality traits and social/emotional intelligence. These interests led her to apply to the doctoral program in Counseling Psychology at Southern Miss to work in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab.

Savannah plans to continue studying psychopathic personality traits and social/emotional intelligence for her master's thesis, exploring their role in relational aggression. One advantage of her previous work in this area is that she already has a solid understanding of the variables and some great ideas about how best to assess them. This has allowed her to get a quick start on her thesis project. Savannah's plans for the future involve a career in academia where she can continue to conduct research.

When asked about any advice she might have for future applicants to our program, Savannah stressed the importance of knowing the research interests of potential faculty advisors, noting that this can help give one a better picture about where one would “fit” as a graduate student in the program. Very good advice!
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Introducing Niki Knight

Niki Knight
Niki Knight is a fourth year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is originally from Arkansas, where she graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2012.

As an undergraduate, Niki joined a research team focused on social behavior and sleep studies. She collaborated on several projects (e.g., laboratory-based sleep studies, measure development, and personality and social behavior research). She found that she particularly enjoyed research related to personality and behavior. This interest guided her in applying to doctoral programs and has carried over into her research as a graduate student at Southern Miss.

Niki started the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program in the Fall of 2013, at which time she joined the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab. Niki successfully defended her master's thesis, The Dark Triad and HEXACO Model of Personality in Relational Aggression, in October of 2015. She presented at the Mississippi Psychological Association (Relational Aggression Among Young Adults) and the Southeastern Psychological Association (The Dark Triad of Personality and Relational Aggression). Most recently, she successfully proposed her dissertation in September of 2016, Fear and Loathing in Peer Relationships: Indirect Aggression, Comparison-Based Traits, and Cognitive Vulnerabilities. She will begin data collection for this project soon.

Niki is in the process of applying for a predoctoral internship, which she hopes to complete at a VA Medical Center. Niki's long-term career goal is to become a VA psychologist, and she is particularly interested in the treatment of veterans with personality disorders, substance use disorders, and/or PTSD.
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Skylar Hicks Proposes Thesis

Skylar Hicks successfully proposed her master's thesis yesterday. Skylar's thesis will examine the relationship between trait anger and the perpetration of relational aggression among college students while taking general negative affect into account and testing the potential role of emotion regulation as a moderator of this relationship.

If emotion regulation moderates the relationship between anger and relational aggression, this may have implications for the treatment of relationally aggressive individuals. For example, such findings might indicate that anger management and other interventions aimed at improving emotion regulation could be beneficial for relationally aggressive young adults.

Skylar is a second-year doctoral student working in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of New Orleans and entered the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program in the Fall of 2015.

Congratulations to Skylar on the successful proposal!
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Ashley Morrison Proposes Thesis

Ashley Morrison, a doctoral student working in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, successfully proposed her master's thesis this week. Ashley plans to explore how Machiavellian personality traits may impact the relationship between trait emotional intelligence and relational aggression among emerging adults. While trait emotional intelligence is usually inversely related to aggressive behavior, Ashley is predicting that the presence of Machiavellian traits may alter or even reverse this relationship.

Congratulations to Ashley on a successful proposal!
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Seeking Gay Male College Students to Complete Online Survey

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Daniel Deason, a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Southern Mississippi, is seeking participants for his dissertation research. Specifically, he is hoping to recruit gay-identifying men currently enrolled in college.

Daniel's dissertation focuses on gay men's experiences of social aggression within the gay community and gender presentation (i.e., masculinity, femininity). Essentially, his study addresses experiences of marginalization within an already marginalized population. Participation consists of completing an online survey that should take between 15 and 30 minutes and has been approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the University of Southern Mississippi. Participation is voluntary, anonymous, and can be terminated at any time.

For each participant who completes the survey, Daniel plans to donate $1 to the Trevor Project, a suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults.

To participate, please go to the following hyperlink to access the consent form and online survey: http://thegaystudy.org

Please consider sharing this post with any individuals or relevant groups (e.g., Gay-Straight Alliances) you know who may be interested in participating.
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Presentation Accepted for SEPA

We just learned that Niki Knight's proposal to present her research at the 2016 Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) conference in New Orleans was accepted. Niki will present The Dark Triad of Personality and Relational Aggression, based on work completed for her master's thesis.

Congratulations Niki!
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Niki Knight Defends Master's Thesis

Niki Knight successfully defended her master's thesis today, The HEXACO and Dark Triad in Relational Aggression. Niki examined the HEXACO model of personality and Dark Triad (i.e., narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) as predictors of proactive and reactive peer relational aggression in a college student sample.

With regard to the HEXACO model, the factors of Honesty-Humility and Agreeableness were positively associated with proactive and reactive relational aggression in peer relationships. Machiavellian, narcissistic, and psychopathic traits were positively associated with reactive relational aggression; narcissistic and psychopathic but not Machiavellian traits were positively associated with proactive relational aggression. Taken together, Niki's results supported the utility of both the HEXACO model and the Dark Triad constructs in predicting peer relational aggression among college students.

Niki is a doctoral student in her third year of the program and will soon begin work on her dissertation.

Congratulations to Niki on a successful defense!
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Caitlin Clark Proposes Dissertation

Caitlin Clark successfully proposed her dissertation today, an ambitious instrument development project aiming to validate a new self-report measure of relational aggression, the Young Adult Relational Aggression Scale (YARAS). Our hope is that the YARAS will ultimately prove to be a psychometrically sound means of assessing proactive and reactive relational aggression among emerging adults.

Many of the existing measures one finds in the adult relational aggression literature were adapted from measures developed with children and early adolescents. Others were developed for use in individual studies and have little evidence of reliability or validity. Still others are difficult to obtain because they were never published, have different versions without clear instructions for use, or do not distinguish between the proactive and reactive functions of relational aggression. Our hope is that the YARAS will be able to improve upon these and other limitations of existing instruments.

Caitlin is an advanced doctoral student working in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab who is in the process of applying for a predoctoral internship this year. With her successful dissertation proposal, she will soon be able to begin data collection.

Congratulations to Caitlin on completing this important milestone!
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Daniel Deason Proposes Dissertation

Daniel Deason, an advanced doctoral student who will be applying for a predoctoral internship this year, successfully proposed his dissertation yesterday. He will soon be able to begin his data collection.

Despite evidence that relationally aggressive behaviors can cause problems for emerging adults, little is known about the nature of relational aggression among persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Daniel's dissertation, Hypermasculine, antifeminine: The role of masculine identity in relational aggression among gay men, will examine relational aggression and victimization in the peer relationships of gay men using Exclusively Masculine Identity Theory (EMIT; Kilianski, 2003). Specifically, he aims to test a model derived from EMIT in which adherence to masculine ideology is examined as a potential moderator of the predicted relationship between an index of participants' sex stereotypically and their report of relational aggression and victimization.

Congratulations to Daniel on presenting a complex proposal so clearly!
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Panel on Relational Aggression at MPA

Caitlin Clark, Daniel Deason, Niki Knight, and Ashley Morrison presented a panel discussion on relational aggression last week at the 66th Annual Convention of the Mississippi Psychological Association in Bay St. Louis. The panel, Relational aggression among young adults, defined relational aggression and provided examples of proactive and reactive functions of the behavior, reviewed several popular misconceptions about relational aggression and the relevant research literature, addressed the limitations of our knowledge about relational aggression among emerging adults, and examined treatment options for reducing relationally aggressive behaviors.

Congratulations to Caitlin, Daniel, Niki, and Ashley on a job well done!
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Lab Welcomes Skylar Hicks

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The Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab is pleased to welcome our newest doctoral student, Skylar Hicks. Skylar recently accepted an offer of admission to the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of Southern Mississippi and will be joining the lab in the Fall of 2015.

Skylar completed her bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of New Orleans, where she worked in Dr. Monica Marsee's Youth Social and Emotional Development Lab. She has been working as a research associate in the Department of Psychiatry at the LSU Health Sciences Center. Her interest and experience in overt and relational aggression make her an excellent fit for the lab.

Congratulations to Skylar on her admission! We are looking forward to working with you in Hattiesburg.
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Paper on Parenting and Relational Aggression Published

Our latest paper on relational aggression is now available in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma. The full citation is below. Congratulations to Caitlin!

Clark, C. M., Dahlen, E. R., & Nicholson, B. C. (2015). The role of parenting in relational aggression and prosocial behavior among emerging adults.
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 24, 185-202. doi: 10.1080/10926771.2015.1002653
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Developing a Measure of Relational Aggression

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The Spring semester is about to begin, and we have several projects approaching the end of the data collection phase. One of the first for which we hope to wrap up data collection and begin data analysis involves the development of a new self-report measure of relational aggression in college students.

Our new measure aims to assess general/peer relational aggression and romantic relation aggression on separate scales and to permit each type of relational aggression to be divided into proactive and reactive functions. For example, a relational aggressive behavior like spreading a malicious rumor about a friend behind his or her back could be proactive (i.e., unprovoked, planned, done for gain) or reactive (i.e., done out of anger or in response to provocation, unplanned, impulsive). We also included items designed to measure electronic forms of relational aggression, a dimension important to college students but not found in existing measures.

Instrument development is usually a length and complex endeavor. We started by conducting a literature review in order to make sure we had a clear definition of relational aggression. We then developed an initial item set on the basis of focus groups with college students and a review of existing measures appropriate to either adolescents or adults. The focus groups were especially useful because they revealed some important limitations of existing measures and provided us with ideas for relevant content that had not occurred to us. After several rounds of revising items, we submitted our item set to several experts on relational aggression. We revised the item set again based on the input of the expert reviewers. Now we are close to completing the step of administering the new items along with a few existing measures of relational aggression and related constructs to a large sample of college students. This will allow us to examine the factor structure of the item set, reduce the number of items while maximizing reliability, and examine the concurrent and discriminant validity of the resulting measure.

While we hope to complete this phase of the project this semester, many additional steps will remain. In fact, we are planning for the next few steps to be carried out as Caitlin Clark's dissertation. We will be at this project for awhile, but we hope to end up with a measure that has some useful advantages over the option currently available.
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Careless Responding in Online Survey Research

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Much of our recent research on relational aggression has utilized college student samples and has involved online surveys. Based on published recommendations (e.g., Huang, Curran, Keeney, Poposki, & DeShon, 2011; Liu, Bowling, Huang, & Kent, 2013; Meade & Craig, 2012), we have been incorporating various methods of detecting careless responding in our surveys. What we have found is that a substantial number of research participants are responding carelessly. In the interest of data integrity, it is clear that the use of procedures to detect careless responders are essential to include in online survey research.

For those researchers just beginning to consider incorporating methods for identifying careless responders and reducing careless responding in online survey research, some of the procedures we have been using include:
  • Modifying consent forms and survey instructions to inform potential participants that quality assurance checks are being used and that failing such checks will result in them not receiving incentives for participation
  • Including validity items or bogus items that should be answered the same way by participants who are attending to item content
  • Measuring survey completion and/or individual instrument completion time
The use of these procedures has allowed us to make sure that participants who are responding carelessly do not receive incentives for participation (e.g., research credit) and that we can easily identify and remove their data.

We have noticed that it is becoming increasingly common for authors of studies using online surveys to address how they detected careless responders and what they did with these data. This suggests that the use of such procedures are rapidly becoming part of routine practice to promote data integrity.
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Daniel Deason Defends Master's Thesis

Daniel Deason successfully defended his master's thesis today, Personality and Relational Aggression in College Students: The Role of Social Anxiety and Rejection Sensitivity. Daniel's study examined the utility of the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality, as well as social anxiety and rejection sensitivity in predicting relational aggression in college students' peer and romantic relationships.

In examining the zero-order correlations between the FFM constructs and relational aggression, both peer and romantic relational aggression were inversely related to agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability (i.e., the inverse of neuroticism). Thus, more relationally aggressive students scored lower on agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability.

When peer relational aggression and romantic relational aggression were each regressed on the five FFM constructs, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability emerged as significant predictors. Students reporting more relational aggression tended to be more extraverted, less agreeable, and have lower emotional stability.

Based on the literature, the strongest case could be made for the role of agreeableness and emotional stability. So, sequential regressions designed to take student gender and race into account were conducted. Agreeableness and emotional stability predicted peer relational aggression; emotional stability predicted romantic relational aggression.

Finally, the incremental validity of social anxiety and rejection sensitivity was tested over and above participant gender, race, and the full FFM. Social anxiety but not rejection sensitivity demonstrated evidence of incremental validity here. Interestingly, extraversion joined agreeableness and emotional stability as predictors of both peer and romantic relational aggression, suggesting that this variable may be more relevant than was previously thought.

Additional analyses will be needed to better evaluate the potential role of participant gender and race, so we will be sure to share them here once they are completed.
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Dark Personalities and Relational Aggression

The "Dark Triad" of personality refers to narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, three constructs with links to overt aggression and other socially undesirable behaviors. Despite the utility of these variables in understanding a variety of behaviors, relatively little is known about their potential role in relational aggression. Moreover, there may be other "dark personality" constructs not adequately represented in the Dark Triad that could be helpful in understanding relationally aggressive behaviors (e.g., sadism).

We recently started collecting data for a couple of studies examining the possible role of the Dark Triad constructs in relational aggression and how they fit into broader models of personality, such as the Five Factor Model and the
HEXACO model of personality.

These studies fit our goal of learning more about relational aggression among emerging adults. In addition, it seems that the study of dark personality constructs may be beneficial in some of our other research areas (e.g., anger and traffic psychology).
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Paper on Parenting and Relational Aggression Accepted for Publication

Caitlin Clark, a doctoral student working in the lab, received some good news this summer. A paper based on her master's project was accepted for publication in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma.

The paper, titled "The role of parenting in relational aggression and prosocial behavior among emerging adults," continues the lab's
research on relational aggression in college students. Results indicated that students' retrospective ratings of how they were parented were related to both relational aggression and prosocial behavior. Authoritative parenting, permissive parenting, and parental psychological control predicted relational aggression. Authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting predicted prosocial behavior, and participant race moderated the relationship between psychological control and prosocial behavior (i.e., parental psychological control was inversely related to prosocial behavior for Black students but not for White students).
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Niki Knight Proposes Master's Thesis

Niki Knight, a doctoral student in her first year of the Counseling Psychology Program, successfully proposed her master's thesis today, The HEXACO Model of Personality and Dark Triad in Relational Aggression. She can begin data collection after obtaining IRB approval.

Niki's thesis will examine the relationships between the constructs represented by the HEXACO personality model and relational aggression in college students, focusing on the role of Honesty-Humility and Agreeableness. Additionally, she will assess the predictive utility of the Dark Triad constructs (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) in predicting proactive and reactive relational aggression.
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Relational Aggression in College Students

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Relational aggression is a form of aggressive behavior in which the aggressor harms others by deliberately manipulating, damaging, or threatening to damage their relationships, feelings of acceptance or inclusion, and/or social status (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Werner & Crick, 1999). The destructive nature of relational aggression among children and early adolescents has been established for some time, but relatively little was known about relational aggression in older adolescents and emerging adults until recently.

Research conducted at the
Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab has focused on contributing to the growing literature on relational aggression in college students. Below is a summary of three recent studies conducted at the lab.

1.
Czar, Dahlen, Bullock, and Nicholson (2011) explored the potential role of psychopathic personality traits in relational aggression among college students. Both primary and secondary psychopathic traits predicted relational aggression, and these relationships did not vary by gender. This suggests that psychopathic traits (e.g., a lack of empathy or remorse, dishonesty, impulsivity, antisocial behavior), known to predict overt aggression, may also be relevant to understanding relational aggression.

2.
Prather, Dahlen, Nicholson, and Bullock-Yowell (2012) found that male and female college students reported engaging in similar levels of relational aggression in their dating relationships. Students with traditional (as opposed to egalitarian) sex role attitudes were more likely to engage in dating relational aggression, regardless of gender. In addition, the acceptance of couple violence predicted dating relational aggression over and above trait anger and sex role attitudes. Taken together, the results suggest that college students who experience more frequent and intense anger than their peers, hold traditional sex role attitudes, and are more accepting of intimate partner violence are more likely to commit acts of relational aggression in their dating relationships.

3.
Dahlen, Czar, Prather, and Dyess (2013) found that college students who described themselves as more relationally aggression reported higher levels of anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness, academic burnout, and the misuse of alcohol. The correlates of relational victimization were similar, suggesting that both relational aggression and victimization can be disruptive to college students' social and emotional functioning. Dahlen and colleagues (2013) also found that anxiety, trait anger, and personal problems related to alcohol use predicted relational aggression in peer relationships while taking students' gender, race, and experiences with relational victimization into account.
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Lab Welcomes Ashley Morrison

The Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab is pleased to welcome Ashley Morrison. Ashley recently accepted admission to the Counseling Psychology doctoral program and will be joining the lab in the Fall of 2014.

Ashley is completing her bachelor's degree in psychology at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana. Her interests in relational aggression and anger make her a good fit for the lab.

Congratulations, Ashley! We are looking forward to working with you.
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Effects of Bullying Persist Into Adulthood

We know that bullying and relational aggression can cause significant problems during childhood and early adolescence, but it also appears that these problems can persist into adulthood. The scientists interviewed in this video from the National Institute of Mental Health describe some of the findings on the effects of bullying in adulthood.

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Daniel Deason Proposes Thesis on Personality and Relational Aggression

Daniel Deason, a doctoral student in his second year, successfully proposed his master's thesis today. He did a great job presenting his study and obtained approval from his committee to move forward.

Daniel's thesis, Personality and Relational Aggression in College Students: The Role of Social Anxiety and Rejection Sensitivity, will examine the utility of the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality, social anxiety, and rejection sensitivity in predicting relational aggression between peers and romantic partners. We expect that some of the Big Five personality factors will predict relational aggression but that social anxiety and rejection sensitivity will explain additional variance in relational aggression beyond the contribution of the FFM.
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Caitlin Clark Recognized for Poster at Student Research Colloquium

Caitlin Clark, a second-year master's student working in the lab, presented a poster on parenting and relational aggression at the 7th Annual Student Research Colloquium at the University of Southern Mississippi in April. She just learned that her poster was selected by faculty judges as an outstanding poster. Congratulations to Caitlin!

Caitlin will enter the doctoral program in the Fall and plans to continue her work on aggression.
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Paper on Relational Aggression in College Students Soon to be Published

A paper authored by Eric R. Dahlen, Katherine A. Czar, Emily Prather, and Christy Dyess will soon be published in the Journal of College Student Development. The paper, "Relational aggression and victimization in college students," has been in press for some time, and it will be nice to see it appear in print.

The brief abstract for the paper is below:
For this study we explored relational aggression and victimization in a college sample (N = 307), examining potential gender and race differences, correlates, and the link between relational aggression and common emotional and behavioral problems, independent of relational victimization. Gender and race differences were observed on relational aggression and victimization. Relational aggression in peer and intimate relationships was positively correlated with depression, anxiety, stress, anger, and alcohol problems. Independent of gender, race, and relational victimization, peer relational aggression was predicted by anxiety, trait anger, and personal problems related to alcohol use.
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Kate Czar Graduates Today

Kate Czar will be graduating with her Ph.D. today. Kate defended her dissertation, a study of cultural differences in relational aggression, last October and completed her predoctoral internship on schedule. I am looking forward to hooding the soon-to-be Dr. Czar at the University of Southern Mississippi's commencement ceremony this afternoon.
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Posters Accepted for SEPA

Caitlin Clark, a second-year master's student working in the lab, had a paper based on her master's project accepted for a poster session at the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting in Atlanta. The title is The Role of Parenting in College Student Relational Aggression.

David Boudreaux, a third-year doctoral student working in the lab, co-authored a paper with Deirdre Paulson and Dr. Melanie Leuty, How Do Anger and Culture Affect Mental Health Practice? Deirdre is a second-year doctoral student working in Dr. Leuty's Work & Occupations Research Collaboration Team.
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Presentation on Relational Aggression at Texas Psychological Association

Lab alumna, Michelle (Augustin) Christopher will be presenting work based on her dissertation at the Texas Psychological Association's 2012 Annual Convention in Austin, TX. She will have a poster titled "Correlates of Relational Aggression in College Students" in a poster session on November 1 and will then present a paper titled "Validation of the Young Adult Social Behavior Scale" as part of a symposium on November 3.

Congratulations to Michelle on having the poster and presentation accepted!
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Lab to Deliver Free Presentation on Anger and Relational Aggression

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Graduate students working in the lab are sharing their knowledge as part of an ongoing series of presentations sponsored by the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic.

On February 29, 2012, Emily Prather, David Boudreaux, and Caitlin Clark will present “Understanding Anger and Relational Aggression” at 6:30 PM on the University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus.

Learn about the difference between healthy and unhealthy anger, brief strategies for managing anger effectively, and when to seek help for yourself or a loved one. The presenters will also address relational aggression, a behavior associated with bullying in which the aggressor harms the victim’s reputation, status, or feelings of belonging through social exclusion, gossip, etc.). Learn about its relation to anger and its importance in the psychological well-being of adolescents and young adults.

The presentation will be held in Room 109 of Owings-McQuagge Hall. It is free and open to the public.
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Poster Accepted for APA

A poster based on Emily Prather's thesis has been accepted by the Society of Counseling Psychology (Division 17) for the 2012 convention of the American Psychological Association in Orlando, FL. The poster, titled "Relational Aggression in College Students' Dating Relationships," will report on respondent gender, sex role attitudes, acceptance of couple violence, and trait anger in the context of relational aggression in students' romantic partnerships.

Congratulations to Emily!
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Adult Attachment and Relational Aggression

We are in the process of planning a couple of studies exploring the possible relationship between adult attachment style and relational aggression. Attachment has been linked to overt physical and verbal aggression in a number of studies, including some focused on intimate partner violence. Moreover, there is some indication that parental attachment may be relevant in relational aggression among children and early adolescents (Michiels, Grietens, Onghena, & Kuppens, 2008). It makes sense that attachment might also be associated with relationally aggressive behaviors in the peer and romantic relationships of older adolescents and adults. Initially, we will be examining attachment in the context of a study focusing on different aspects of parenting in relational aggression among college students.

An additional next step we hope to tackle involves determining whether the predicted relationships between adult attachment and relational aggression persist independent of one's global personality traits (i.e., the "Big Five" personality factors). Another involves examining some of the variables which we suspect may moderate the relationship between attachment and relational aggression (e.g., anger, perceived social support, etc.).
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Parenting and Relational Aggression

Caitlin Clark, a first year master's student working in the lab, just received IRB approval for a study of parenting and relational aggression among college students. The study involves an exploratory investigation to determine whether the parenting style used by participants' parents during their childhood years is meaningfully related to different forms of relational aggression and victimization in early adulthood. Caitlin plans to begin data collection soon.
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Kate Defends Dissertation on Regional Differences in Relational Aggression

Kate Czar successfully defended her dissertation yesterday. Her study, Regional Differences in Relational Aggression: The Role of Culture, compared college students from two regions of the U.S. (one northern and one southern) on relational aggression, gender role attitudes, and normative beliefs about aggression. Southern participants were more likely to report engaging in relationally aggressive behaviors and endorsed more traditional gender roles than did northern participants. Apart from the regional differences, gender role attitudes were associated with relational aggression in that participants holding more traditional gender role attitudes were more likely to report behaving in relationally aggressive ways. Independent of physical aggressiveness, gender role attitudes predicted relational aggression among women.

Congratulations to Kate on an excellent defense!
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Relational Aggression in Students' Dating Relationships

A paper we submitted based on Emily Prather's thesis has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma. The citation is:

Prather, E., Dahlen, E. R., Nicholson, B. C., & Bullock-Yowell, E. (in press). Relational aggression in college students’ dating relationships. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma.

Emily is an advanced doctoral student working in the lab. She is currently developing her dissertation proposal.
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Kate's Dissertation Defense Set for October

Kate Czar has scheduled her dissertation defense for October 19th. Her dissertation, Regional Differences in Relational Aggression: The Role of Culture, compared college undergraduates from two universities (one located in Pennsylvania and one in Mississippi) on measures of aggression, gender role attitudes, and normative beliefs about aggression.

Southern participants reported more general/peer and romantic relational aggression and more traditional gender role attitudes than did Northern participants. Gender role attitudes were associated with relational aggression in that more traditional gender roles were positively correlated with relational aggression. Beliefs about the acceptability of relational aggression did not differ by region.
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What is Relational Aggression?

relational aggression
Relational aggression refers to a set of behaviors through which the aggressor harms others by adversely affecting their social relationships, reputation, and/or feelings of inclusion or belonging (Crick et al., 1999; Linder, Crick, & Collins, 2002). Common examples include spreading malicious rumors and gossip, social exclusion, and public embarrassment.

Psychologists have been studying relational aggression since the mid-1990s, and it has long been recognized as a problem by many parents of school-aged children. However, it took the 2004 film Mean Girls to bring relational aggression to the attention of the larger public. Since then, the costs of relational aggression among children and early adolescents have become increasingly clear. Victims are more likely to suffer from a variety of psychological problems, including anxiety and depression; both victims and aggressors are more likely to misuse substances and engage in a number of delinquent behaviors (Archer & Coyne, 2005; Sullivan, Farrell, & Kliewer, 2006).

Surprisingly little is known about relational aggression among older adolescents and adults, but this is slowly starting to change. Research is underway to investigate the nature of relationally aggressive behaviors among college students. One of the interesting findings to emerge so far is that the gender difference observed among children and younger adolescents (i.e., relational aggression is more common among girls) does not appear to be present.
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Congratulations to Two New Lab Alumni

Michelle Augustin and Greg Futral both graduated with their doctorates in Counseling Psychology this month. They were valuable members of the lab, and their contributions will be missed even as we wish them the best moving ahead with their careers.

Michelle's dissertation, "A Psychometric Investigation of the Young Adult Social Behavior Scale (YASB)," was a confirmatory factor analysis and validation of a self-report measure of relational aggression suitable for college students. Greg's dissertation, "Increasing Readiness to Change Anger: A Motivational Group Intervention," involved a treatment study in which a brief motivational enhancement group was compared with a no-treatment control.
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Gender and Sex Role Egalitarianism in Dating Relational Aggression

Emily Prather, a third year doctoral student working in the lab, defended her thesis today. Emily's thesis was titled Sex Role Egalitarianism and Relational Aggression in Intimate Partnerships.

Surprisingly little is known about relational aggression among college students. Emily's thesis explored the role of sex role egalitarianism, gender, and acceptance of couple violence in college students' dating relationships. She found that acceptance of couple violence predicted the perpetration of relational aggression, independent of trait anger and sex role egalitarianism. Although both respondent gender and sex role egalitarianism predicted relational aggression, there was no evidence that gender moderated the relationship between sex role egalitarianism and relational aggression. For both male and female students, more traditional (i.e., less egalitarian) sex role attitudes were associated with a greater tendency to engage in relationally aggressive behaviors.
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Psychopathic Traits in Relational Aggression Among College Students

We recently had a manuscript accepted for publication in Aggressive Behavior based on Kate Czar's master's thesis:

Czar, K. A., Dahlen, E. R., Bullock-Yowell, E., & Nicholson, B. C. (in press). Psychopathic personality traits in relational aggression among young adults. Aggressive Behavior.

The paper addresses the potential role of psychopathic personality traits in relational aggression among college students. Findings showed that psychopathic personality traits predicted peer and romantic relational aggression, even when controlling for physical aggressiveness. Neither the frequency with which relationally aggressive behaviors were reported nor the link between psychopathic traits and relational aggression differed by participant gender.

Kate is an advanced doctoral student working in the lab, and we are proud of her efforts. She proposed her dissertation recently and will begin collecting data soon.
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Culture and Relational Aggression

Kate Czar, a doctoral student working in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, successfully defended her dissertation proposal last week. Congratulations to Kate!

Although relational aggression has been widely studied among children and early adolescents, much less is known about it among older adolescents and adults. One particular area which has received little attention to date concerns the role of culture in relational aggression. Kate's dissertation, "Regional Differences in Relational Aggression: The Role of Culture," will focus on examining potential regional differences (i.e., North-South) in the U.S. Differing norms and expectations governing aggressive behavior, particularly among women, are expected to manifest themselves in different rates and perceptions of relational aggression. Relational aggression, normative beliefs about relational aggression, and gender role egalitarianism are among the variables which Kate will examine.
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