Coping with peer victimization: The role of children's attributions

Kari Jeanne Visconti, Casey M. Sechler, Becky Ladd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


A social- cognitive framework was used to generate and test hypotheses regarding the role of children's causal attributions for peer victimization in predicting how they cope with such experiences.It was hypothesized that attributions would be differentially associated with coping as a function ofthe direction (i.e., upward, horizontal, or downward) of the social comparison reflected in children's perceived cause for their peer victimization. Self- and peer-reports were collected on 224 (97 boys, 127 girls) fourth- and sixth-grade ethnically diverse students (Mage 10.6 years, SD 1.08 years). Only children who had been targeted for peer aggression within the preceding two months were included to ensure they had a basis for answering questions regarding the cause of their victimization and how they coped. Data were gathered in the fall and spring of the academic school year and included reports of causal attributions, victimization, aggression, peer acceptance, and coping with victimization. Multiple regression analyses provided preliminary evidence that children's attributions were differentially predictive of changes in coping responses. For example, attributing victimization to one's race predicted decreases in seeking friend support and increases in nonchalance, whereas attributing it to not being as "cool" as others was associated with increases in seeking teacher and friend support, but decreases in nonchalance. Results suggest that children's attributions may reflect the resources they have available to them to cope with victimization. Such resources may be due to social status, or they may be due to the extent to which children blame themselves for the victimization (e.g., the degree to which they expect sympathy and help). Implications of these differential patterns of attributions and coping strategies for children's adjustment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-140
Number of pages19
JournalSchool Psychology Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Attributions
  • Coping
  • Social cognition
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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