Heart rate and antisocial behavior: Mediation and moderation by affiliation with bullies. The TRAILS study: Effects of peer bullying behavior

J.J. Sijtsema, R. Veenstra, S.M. Lindenberg, A.M. van Roon, F.C. Verhulst, J. Ormel, H. Riese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
Low heart rate (HR) has been linked to antisocial behavior (ASB). However, the effect of low HR may be mediated by affiliation with bullies. We hypothesized that individuals with low HR are more likely to affiliate with bullies and in turn are influenced by these peers.
Methods
Data come from two waves of a subsample of the TRAILS study (N = 809; 44.0% boys; mean age of 11.0 years at T1 and 13.5 years at T2). ASB was measured using the Antisocial Behavior Questionnaire at both waves. HR was assessed during rest at T1. Affiliation with bullies was assessed via peer nominations at T1. Possible gender differences were taken into account, and all analyses were adjusted for family context (i.e., family breakup and socioeconomic status).
Results
Regression analyses showed that lower HR was only associated with ASB in (pre)adolescents who affiliated with bullies. Moreover, the effect of lower HR on boys' ASB was partly mediated by affiliation with bullies.
Conclusions
Our findings show that (pre)adolescents, and in particular boys, seem to be in environments that match their biological disposition and in turn are shaped by this environment.
Keywords: Aggression, Bullying, Cardiac autonomic nervous system, Delinquency, Peer relationships, Person environment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-107
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume52
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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