Group membership, group norms, empathy, and young children's intentions to aggress

Drew Nesdale*, Ella Milliner, Amanda Duffy, Judith A. Griffiths

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


This study assessed the effect of ingroup norms and empathy on 6 and 9-year-old children's (N=161) attitudes and aggressive intentions toward outgroup members. Prior to an intergroup drawing competition against an outgroup, participants' empathy was measured, and they were randomly assigned to a simulated group with a norm of direct or indirect aggression, or no aggression norm. Results indicated participants' attitudes were less positive toward the outgroup vs. the ingroup, and that both direct and indirect aggressive intentions were displayed toward the outgroup. Most importantly, the ingroup was liked less when it had an aggression norm, and the participants' aggressive intentions were not enhanced by the group aggression norm. Empathy was a significant negative predictor of direct but not indirect aggression intentions. Implications for understanding the instigation and inhibition of children's aggression intentions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-258
Number of pages15
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2009
Externally publishedYes


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