Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 263–274 | Cite as

The Association Between Forms of Aggression, Leadership, and Social Status Among Urban Youth

  • Tracy Evian Waasdorp
  • Courtney N. Baker
  • Brooke S. Paskewich
  • Stephen S. Leff
Empirical Research


While much prior research has documented the negative associations between aggression, peer relationships, and social skills, other research has begun to examine whether forms of aggression also may be associated with prosocial skills and increased social status. However, few studies have examined these associations within diverse samples of elementary aged youth. The current study examined the associations between aggression, popularity, social preference, and leadership among 227 urban, ethnic minority (74 % African American, 9 % bi-racial including African American, 12 % other ethnic minorities, and 5 % European American) elementary school youth (average age 9.5 years, 48.5 % female). Results indicated that in an urban, high risk environment, displaying aggressive behaviors was associated with increased perceived popularity, decreased social preference, and, in some cases, increased perceived leadership. The results also suggested gender differences in the association between the forms of aggression (i.e. relational and overt) and popularity. The current study underscores the importance of examining youth leadership along with forms of aggression and social status among urban minority youth. Implications for future research and aggression prevention programming are highlighted.


Relational aggression Popularity Social preference Leadership Social status Gender 



This research was supported by two NIMH grants to the anchor author, R34MH072982 and R01MH075787, and by cooperative agreement number 5 U49 CE001093 from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This research was made possible, in part, by the School District of Philadelphia. Opinions contained in this report reflect those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the School District of Philadelphia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracy Evian Waasdorp
    • 1
  • Courtney N. Baker
    • 4
  • Brooke S. Paskewich
    • 1
  • Stephen S. Leff
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Pediatric PsychologyThe Children’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.University of Pennsylvania School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.The Philadelphia Collaborative Violence Prevention CenterPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Tulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

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