Preschool children’s beliefs about the acceptability of relational and physical aggression

Cara S. Swit*, Anne McMaugh, Wayne A. Warburton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


This research examined differences in beliefs about the acceptability of aggression and behavioral responses to aggression of preschool-aged children. Two groups, identified from teacher ratings, participated in the research. One group of children exhibited relationally aggressive behaviors, and a comparison group was identified with non-aggressive behaviors. Children’s social skills were assessed through observations. Beliefs about the acceptability of aggression and behavioral responses to aggression were assessed using four vignettes presented with toy figures. Children were encouraged to use the figurines to verbalize or enact responses. Children’s responses were analyzed and could be categorized as problem-solving or aggressive responses. There were no significant differences between groups on beliefs about the acceptability of aggression. However, younger children held more accepting beliefs about aggression. The methodological technique identified that relationally aggressive children used more problem-solving and conflict resolution strategies compared to children in the comparison group. These findings have important implications for educators in recognizing that not all forms of aggression are associated with fewer prosocial problem-solving skills. Methodological techniques employed in this study are recommended for use in the delivery of intervention programs aimed at reducing aggressive behaviors of preschool children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-127
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Early Childhood
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Feb 2016


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