Title

An investigation of the effectiveness of an abbreviated social skills training program targeting relational aggression in middle school students

Date of Completion

January 2011

Keywords

Education, Middle School|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Educational Psychology

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Relational aggression is an increasingly prevalent problem in society today that can lead to many adverse outcomes for both victims and perpetrators. Despite this growing problem, there are few interventions available to effectively address relationally aggressive behavior. Previous research has shown that children displaying relationally aggressive behavior are deficient in empathy and fail to use cooperation for prosocial purposes. Due to this, it is hypothesized that a social skills training program will be effective in remediating relational aggression. This study aims to determine the effectiveness of an abbreviated version of the Social Skills Improvement System – Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP; Elliott & Gresham, 2008) in the lessening of relationally aggressive behaviors in sixth grade students. Nine sixth grade students from a small school in northeastern Connecticut were enrolled in the study. A pretest-posttest design was utilized along with a comparison group. Overall results evidenced no statistically significant difference between the relational aggression scores of the Intervention and Comparison groups at posttest. Despite this, small behavioral changes were observed in the participating students identified by peers and teachers as displaying relational aggression. Unfortunately, the study was underpowered, thus, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions regarding the intervention's effectiveness in reducing relational aggression. ^