Aggressive, Assertive and Non-Confrontational Forms of Defending: Differentiation of Forms and Consequences of Defending

Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Noel Card


Noel Card


Stephen Russell


Sheri Bauman


The factor structure of the newly created Enacted Defending Scale (EDS) was investigated to better understand what strategies of defending children and adolescents enact to defend their peers from peer victimization. This investigation resulted in a 5-factor model, representative of assertive, overt aggressive, relationally aggressive, and two non-confrontational strategies of defending, telling an adult and comforting the victim. Aggressive forms of defending could be differentiated; whether the defending strategy was enacted in response to overt or relational victimization could not be differentiated. In general, aggressive strategies were associated with dependent variables indicative of poorer adjustment, while assertive and non-confrontational strategies were either related to positive dependent variables or unrelated to the psychosocial adjustment outcomes. Only one of the associations varied by age. The results suggest, first, that attention must be given to multiple forms of defending and that not all defending of peer victimization may have a prosocial effect, and second, that there is a need to carefully consider the potential consequences of defending for defenders themselves.