Mean Girls

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Logically, when people want to make friends, and “up” their popularity status, they are nice to others. In high school, it seems that girls do this the opposite way, and are mean to one another in order to bond with friends and become more popular. This paper will discuss reasons why adolescent girls tend to put down others, rather than be nice and respectful. It seems that the number of mean girls are increasing every year, and high school seems to be a connection.

Schools all around the country are dealing with the issue that they call bullying. However, bullying is an understatement for most of the issues dealing with adolescent girls. By definition, bullying is only one aspect of aggression (Coie et al., 1991). Bullying is a hurtful one-way ‘systematic abuse of power’, which usually occurs repeatedly over time (Smith and Sharp, 1994: p.2; Olweus, 1991). Most of the aggressions between girls in high school are not a one-way system. The issue of aggression at hand is more of a two-way process of attack and retaliation (Roland and Idsoe, 2001). When studying the aggression and conflicts of adolescent girls of similar social statuses, it reveals that girls do engage in retaliation, and revenge seeking against one another (Owens et al., 2000b).

There are many theories that explain the differences in aggression between girls and boys, such as biological factors and social-role theories. According to Bjorkqvist et al., (1994), and Lagerspetz et al., (1988), girls prefer to use indirect aggression, such as, spreading rumors or exclusion from the group, instead of physical aggression. This is usually because they are physically inferior to boys. It is also thought that cultural gender-role expectations encourage boys to be directly aggressive, where girls are socially discouraged from that kind of behavior (Vennessa H. James and Laurence D. Owens, 2005). As a result of these expectations, girls need to hide their aggressive intentions, so they don’t violate the social expectations of the non-aggressive females (Eagly and Crowley, 1983; Kaukiainen et al., 2001). Bjorkqvist et al., (1992b), stated that this method of indirect aggression is called covert, where they are masked to not appear aggressive. This could be gossiping about so-called true facts, or even giving a dirty look, which could be explained as accidental or misdirected.

Some of these biological and socio-cultural factors interact with cognitive development (Maccoby and Jacklin, 1980). Adolescent girls focus on small, exclusive friendships, and feel they need to be connected with others, which develops social skills, emotional intimacy, and expression and self-disclosure (Adler et al., 1992). Also according to Adler et al., (1992), this develops a peer culture of compliance and conformity. This means that once girls form a group and become close and conformed, it offers more opportunities for indirect and verbal victimization to have hurtful affects on others (Alson and Romer, 1996; Bjorkqvist et al., 1992a). For some reason, these hurtful things tend to strengthen the relational bonds between the perpetrators (Adler et al., 1992).

Social aggression is defined as behavior that is directed toward harming another’s self-esteem, social status, or both (Galen and Underwood, 1997). Galen and Underwood, (1997), also state that this aggression may take the form of verbal rejection, negative facial expressions or body movement, spreading rumors or social exclusion. This is one of the best definitions of social aggression because it includes the nonverbal displays of social exclusion, and because it best describes the function of these behaviors, to do social harm (Stacey S. Horn, 2003).

There are many things in this world that can impact why girls behave as aggressive as they do during adolescent times. Body image is one of the largest issues. Body image dissatisfaction is described as a pervasive problem experienced by a large proportion of society (Polivy and...
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