"Guess what I just heard!": Indirect aggression among teenage girls in Australia

Laurence Owens, Rosalyn Shute, Phillip Slee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

284 Citations (Scopus)


Traditionally males have been regarded as the more aggressive sex. However, recent research in several countries has challenged this notion by considering different forms of aggression. This paper provides an overview of a qualitative investigation of teenage girls' indirect forms of aggression (e.g., exclusion from the group, spreading false stories). Focus groups and pair and individual interviews were used to collect data from adolescent girls and their teachers in two schools. The study provides some clear insights into the nature of teenage girls' indirect aggression. The predominant indirectly aggressive behaviors include talking about others and excluding peers from the group. Key explanations for these behaviors concern a desire to create excitement and a range of friendship and group processes centered on girls' needs for close personal relationships and to be a part of the peer group. The girls described the devastating effects of indirect aggression, particularly on girls with certain characteristics that predispose them to victimization. The girls were pessimistic about the potential of interventions, although peer mediation processes may be a way forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
Number of pages17
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2000


  • Adolescence
  • Focus groups, australia
  • Indirect aggression
  • Qualitative research
  • Teenage girls


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