Written by Makeela Wells
Bullying can have a significant impact on one’s daily life, including his or her attitude or behavior. Antisocial behavior is both a cause and a consequence of bullying. First, a purpose of the blog is to define antisocial behavior. Second, it will discuss the causes and characteristics that are associated with antisocial behavior. Lastly, the blog will examine change and stability in antisocial behavior, in the form of delinquency, from adolescence to early adulthood.
What is antisocial behavior?
Antisocial behavior can be described as acts that are disruptive and tend to be negative in their consequences (Trembley, 2000; Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2003). It has also been associated with the lack of prosocial behavior (Trembley, 2000). Antisocial behavior can either be covert or overt. Covert antisocial behavior usually is hidden from others and includes acts, such as lying, while overt forms of antisocial behavior are visible to others, such as responding aggressively in a physical way (Trembley, 2000). Most children possess both prosocial and antisocial behavior. Levels of antisocial behavior can increase as children reach adolescence (Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2003).
What are the characteristics and causes of antisocial behavior?
Several factors have been linked to children and adolescents engaging in antisocial behavior. Familial factors related to antisocial behavior include marriage instability among parents (e.g., constant arguing), inconsistent and/or harsh parental disciplinary actions, and child abuse and neglect (Tremblay, 2000). An additional familial factor that is associated with antisocial behavior is an unstable home, in which children and adolescents frequently move from one place to the next, or a parent, such as a father, has an infrequent presence in the home (Tremblay, 2000). Individual factors relating to antisocial behavior may include learning or cognitive disabilities or health problems (Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2003). Lastly, bullying is also a cause of antisocial behavior. Those who experience bullying within school tend to develop antisocial behaviors or reactions as a way of coping with the stress and frustration that results from being bullied (Zuckerman, 2016). Antisocial behavior that results from bullying can include increased aggression and anger. Additionally, the same individuals who are being bullied may turn to bullying themselves as a way to cope (Zuckerman, 2016).
Does antisocial behavior change or remain the same over the life course?
Cernkovich and Giordano (2001) conducted a research project in order to examine the relationship between age and antisocial behavior (measured as delinquency). They wanted to explore whether or not levels of antisocial behavior change as one moves from adolescence to early adulthood. The sample included participants who had engaged in varying levels of delinquency as adolescents. Participants in the study were interviewed at 2 time periods, as an adolescent and as a young adult (a span of 10 years). Findings from this study showed that antisocial behavior remained stable for those who were serious delinquent offenders, while antisocial behavior changed for less serious and non-typical delinquent offenders (Cernkovich & Giordano, 2001). In other words, as serious offenders grew older, their level of antisocial behavior did not change.
Cernkovich, S.A., & Giordano, P.C. (2001). Stability and change in antisocial behavior: The transition from adolescence to early adulthood. Criminology, 39(2), 371-410.
Tremblay, R.E. (2000). The development of aggressive behavior during childhood: What have we learned in the past century? International Journal of Behavioral Development, 24, 129-141.
Walker, H.M., Ramsey E., & Gresham, F.M. (2003). Heading off disruptive behavior. A Union of Professionals. Retrieved from: http://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/winter-2003-2004/heading-disruptive-behavior.
Zuckerman, D. (2016). Bullying harms victims and perpetrators of all ages. Health Progress. Retrieved from: https://www.chausa.org/docs/default-source/health-progress/bullying-harms-victims-and-perpetrators-of-all-ages.pdf?sfvrsn=2.
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Jessica Utley
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor