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Clarifying the relation between bullying and social cognition

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In an effort to resolve a current conflict in the literature, this project investigated the relation between social cognition and bullying by assessing theory of mind, emotion understanding, empathy, moral emotions, and bullying for aggressive children compared to prosocial children. A new measure was developed to assess the social cognitive constructs; bullying was assessed via self, peer, and teacher reports. Participants were 18 second graders, with the results presented in a descriptive case study. Moral emotions was the most useful for differentiating aggressive and prosocial children—prosocial children were more likely to score well, while aggressive children were more likely to do poorly. Results for theory of mind were mixed - teacher/peer rated bullies had high theory of mind, while peer rated bullies scored low. The empathy scores were not what would be predicted from past research, and emotion understanding was also not useful for differentiating aggressive and prosocial children.
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