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19-01-2018 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 9/2018

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 9/2018

Pacifists and Revenge-Seekers in Response to Unambiguous Peer Provocation

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 9/2018
Kristina L. McDonald, Steven R. Asher
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Data Sharing Declaration

The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are not publicly available, but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10964-017-0767-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


In order to better understand why some children retaliate when they feel provoked and others do not, the present study identified “pacifistically-oriented” children who made negative interpretations in response to unambiguous provocations, yet did not endorse revenge goals, and compared them to “revenge-seeking” children who also made negative interpretations but did endorse revenge goals. Groups were identified based on seventh graders’ (N = 367; 54.77% male; 22.89% racial/ethnic minority) responses to hypothetical situations in which a peer excluded and insulted them. Comparing these groups revealed that Pacifists endorsed relationship-maintaining goals and emotion regulation goals more highly than Revenge-Seekers. Revenge-Seekers reported more anger and endorsed beliefs about negative reciprocity and aggression being legitimate more highly than Pacifists. Additionally, Revenge-Seekers were more disrespect sensitive than were Pacifists, based on a measure of vigilance for signs of disrespect and expectations that others would disrespect them. Together these findings point to social-cognitive and emotion-related processes that may inhibit revenge-seeking in unambiguous provocation situations, even when children interpret the peer’s behavior quite negatively.

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