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Physical and relational bullying and victimization: Differential relations with adolescent dating and sexual behavior

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Aggressive Behavior

Published online on


Taking an evolutionary psychological perspective, we investigated whether involvement in bullying as a perpetrator or victim was more likely if adolescents reported having more dating and sexual partners than their peers, an indication of greater engagement in competition for mates. A total of 334 adolescents (173 boys, 160 girls) between the ages of 12 and 16 years (M = 13.6, SD = 1.3), recruited from community youth organizations, completed self‐report measures of physical and relational bullying and victimization, as well as dating and sexual behavior. As predicted, pure physical bullying was positively associated with the number of dating and sexual partners, primarily for adolescent boys. Adolescent girls with more dating partners had greater odds of being relational bully‐victims, in line with predictions. Finally, adolescent girls with more sexual partners were at greater risk of being physically victimized by peers, and greater involvement with dating and sexual partners was associated with higher odds of being a physical bully‐victim. Results are discussed with respect to evolutionary theory and research in which adolescent boys may display strength and athleticism through physical bullying to facilitate intersexual selection, whereas relational bullying may be employed as a strategy to engage in intrasexual competition with rivals for mates. Aggr. Behav. 43:111–122, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.