Waarom leidt sociale afwijzing tot agressie? Een test van het mediërende effect van veranderingen in state self-esteem en gepercipieerde ‘unfairness’
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Objective: This experiment examined two putative mediators of the acute social rejection-aggression association in pre-adolescents: perceptions of unfairness and changes in state self-esteem. Both direct aggression and displaced aggression were examined. Methods: Participants (n = 185, Mage = 11.5 years) participated in a fictitious Internet computer-contest coined ‘Survivor’, designed to create the illusion that personal profiles of participants were evaluated online by peer judges. After receiving negative or neutral feedback, participants evaluated the same peers who had evaluated them as well as several other “uninvolved” other peers. In so doing, they were enabled to aggress in two different ways towards these peers. Results: Regression analysis showed that the effect of acute peer rejection on direct aggression and verbal displaced aggression was significantly mediated by perceptions of unfairness, whereas decreases in state self-esteem did not. In contrast, neither changes in state self-esteem nor perceptions of unfairness mediated the link between acute peer rejection and financial displaced aggression. After being rejected, higher levels of direct aggression and financial displaced aggression, but not verbal displaced aggression, were linked to stronger repair of damaged state self-esteem. Conclusions: The results of this experiment suggest that children are in particular prone to react with direct and verbal displaced aggression to acute peer rejection when they perceive that they have been unfairly rejected. More direct aggression and financial displaced aggression serve to stronger repair damaged state self-esteem.