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19-05-2015 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 12/2015

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 12/2015

Aggressive and Prosocial? Examining Latent Profiles of Behavior, Social Status, Machiavellianism, and Empathy

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 12/2015
Christian Berger, Milena Batanova, Jessica Duncan Cance


The present study tests whether aggression and prosocial behavior can coexist as part of a socially functional and adaptive profile among early adolescents. Using a person-centered approach, the study examined early adolescents’ likelihood of being classified into profiles involving aggressive and prosocial behavior, social status (popular, liked, cool), machiavellianism, and both affective and cognitive components of empathy (empathic concern and perspective taking, respectively). Participants were 1170 early adolescents (10–12 years of age; 52 % male) from four schools in metropolitan Santiago, Chile. Through latent profile analysis, three profiles emerged (normative-low aggressive, high prosocial-low aggressive, and high aggressive-high popular status). Both empathic concern and perspective taking were higher in the high prosocial-low aggressive profile, whereas the high aggressive-high popular status profile had the lowest scores on both empathy components as well as machiavellianism. No profile emerged where aggressive and prosocial behaviors were found to co-exist, or to be significantly above the mean. The results underscore that aggressive behavior is highly contextual and likely culturally specific, and that the study of behavioral profiles should consider social status as well as socio-emotional adjustment indicators. These complex associations should be taken into consideration when planning prevention and intervention efforts to reduce aggression or school bullying and to promote positive peer relationships.

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