The impact of peer victimization on later maladjustment: Mediating and moderating effects of hostile and self-blaming attributions

Sonja Perren, Idean Ettekal, Gary Ladd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Background: Evidence indicates that being a victim of bullying or peer aggression has negative short- and long-term consequences. In this study, we investigated the mediating and moderating role of two types of attributional mechanisms (hostile and self-blaming attributions) on children's maladjustment (externalizing and internalizing problems). Methods: In total, 478 children participated in this longitudinal study from grade 5 to grade 7. Children, parents, and teachers repeatedly completed questionnaires. Peer victimization was assessed through peer reports (T1). Attributions were assessed through self-reports using hypothetical scenarios (T2). Parents and teachers reported on children's maladjustment (T1 and T3). Results: Peer victimization predicted increases in externalizing and internalizing problems. Hostile attributions partially mediated the impact of victimization on increases in externalizing problems. Self-blame was not associated with peer victimization. However, for children with higher levels of self-blaming attributions, peer victimization was linked more strongly with increases in internalizing problems. Conclusions: Results imply that hostile attributions may operate as a potential mechanism through which negative experiences with peers lead to increases in children's aggressive and delinquent behavior, whereas self-blame exacerbates victimization's effects on internalizing problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Peer victimization
  • externalizing problems
  • hostile attributions
  • internalizing problems
  • self-blame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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