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Psychosocial Adjustment Across Aggressor/Victim Subgroups: A Systematic Review and Critical Evaluation of Theory

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Kelly E. O’Connor
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Supplementary Information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10567-021-00347-3.

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Theoretical conceptualizations of “aggressive-victims” portray them as more emotionally dysregulated and socially inept than adolescents who are either aggressive or victimized. The purpose of this systematic review is to synthesize the literature comparing the psychosocial adjustment of aggressor/victim subgroups (i.e., aggressive-victims, predominant-aggressors, predominant-victims, and youth with limited involvement) and determine whether empirical findings are consistent with theory, particularly regarding whether aggressive-victims possess unique and shared characteristics relative to those with other patterns of involvement in aggression. This review focuses on studies with early adolescent samples given the heightened vulnerability for aggression and victimization and the need for more effective interventions during this developmental period. A systematic search of three databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, Academic Search Complete) identified 25 studies, which varied in their sample characteristics, approach to defining subgroups, and findings regarding the unique and shared characteristics of aggressive-victims. I propose several guidelines for future research in this area and highlight several gaps in our existing knowledge. Implications for theory and prevention efforts are discussed.

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