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      Popular students, not the most popular ones, more likely to torment peers

      By Ani

      Washington, Feb 9 (ANI): Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have found that it's actually popular adolescents-but not the most popular ones-who are particularly likely to torment their peers.

      "Our findings underscore the argument that-for the most part-attaining and maintaining a high social status likely involves some level of antagonistic behavior," said Robert Faris, an assistant professor of sociology at UC Davis.

      It also finds that those students in the top 2 percent of the school social hierarchy-along with those at the bottom-are the least aggressive.

      "The fact that they both have reduced levels of aggression is true, but it can be attributed to quite different things. The ones at the bottom don't have the social power or as much capacity to be aggressive whereas the ones at the top have all that power, but don't need to use it," Faris said.

      The authors define aggression as behavior directed toward harming or causing pain to another. It can be physical (hitting, shoving or kicking), verbal (name-calling or threats) or indirect (spreading rumors or ostracism).

      In general, the study, finds that increases in social status for both males and females are accompanied by subsequent increases in aggression until a student approaches the top of the social hierarchy.ccording to the researchers, adolescents in the top 2 percent of the social hierarchy-where aggression peaks-have an average aggression rate that is 28 percent greater than students at the very bottom and 40 percent greater than students at the very top.

      And those students at the very top of the social hierarchy-who seemingly possess the most social capacity for aggressiveness-generally aren't aggressive.

      The Faris/Felmlee study is based on 3,722 eighth-, ninth- and 10th -grade students in North Carolina who participated during the 2004-5 school year.

      The study has been published in the February issue of the American Sociological Review. (ANI)

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