Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

April Bradley

Second Advisor

Doug McDonald


Relational aggression is a form of aggression that has received increasing attention within the psychological literature. Among the American Indian population, however, research on relational aggression is currently non-existent. To date, research is continuing to grow with regard to the base rates of relational aggression. The current study has examined both peer-nominated and self-report relational aggression among Caucasian and Northern Plains American Indian school children in order to explore cultural, gender, grade level, and age differences. Other forms of aggression and social status were also explored in order to understand how these constructs may play a role in peer relations. Among Northern Plains American Indian children, differences in acculturation were examined with regard to relational aggression. Comparisons and interactions were further explored among culture, gender, and grade level on relational aggression. Lastly, group comparisons and associations were explored on the various demographics and measures of the study. The overall sample consisted of 488 middle school students recruited from three rural schools within the Northern Plains region. In addition to a demographic questionnaire, the participants completed multiple inventories pertaining to bullying behavior, social acceptance/popularity, social group membership, and cultural identification. The results indicated that middle school girls reported significantly higher relational aggression and were nominated by their peers for displaying this form of aggression at a significantly higher rate than boys. Caucasian students did not report significantly higher relational aggression but were nominated by their peers as being significantly more relationally aggressive than American Indian students. Acculturation differences among Northern Plains American Indian children were found on peer-nominated relational aggression only. Differences in grade level and age on both self-report and peer-nominated relational aggression were insignificant but were present in the demographic trends/base rates. Differences were also found in the demographic trends/base rates of peer-nominated overt aggression and measures of social status; however, none of these differences were significant. The findings revealed no significant interactions among relational aggression and the demographic variables of the study. Clinical implications, limitations of the current study, and future research directions are discussed.