Heterogeneity of Relationally Aggressive Adolescents in Taiwan: Direct and Indirect Relational Aggression

Ching Ling Cheng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Relational aggressors mistreat their targets in covert ways; however, they also inflict psychological harm to victims. A clarification of the distinctive function of the perpetrators’ destructive patterns would be helpful for interventional consideration. This study’s purpose was to, first, explore the classification of relational aggression (RA) by means of operational channels, and then, to examine the psychosocial characteristics of each subtype. The participants were 860 junior high school students (431 boys, Mage = 14.2) from four schools in Taiwan. Self-reported measures of empathy, normative beliefs of RA, and coping strategy of interpersonal conflicts were used for data collection, as well as peer-nominated measures of RA and peer acceptance. By means of cluster analyses, five clusters were identified: direct, indirect, severe/combined, mild/combined, and uninvolved. The meaningfulness of the resultant cluster solution was examined through the analysis of social-cognitive, affective, and behavioral features as well as psychosocial adjustment. The findings indicated that different subgroups of relational aggressors demonstrated distinct psychosocial characteristics. In particular, in contrast to non-involved adolescents, the direct group tended to regard RA as acceptable, and the indirect group was more likely to rely on social support and have negative emotional reactions in dealing with interpersonal problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3035-3052
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Nov 1


  • adolescents
  • direct relational aggression
  • indirect relational aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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