This study explores how positive emotions and social appraisals of third-party actions are likely to increase well-being for victimized youth.
The authors of this study consider how positive emotions and social appraisals of third-party actions are likely to increase well-being for victimized youth. The findings emphasize the need for specificity in how researchers and practitioners categorize third-party peer actions. Encouraging the types of action that are most appreciated by victimized youth might help adolescents be more effective sources of support in the context of peer aggression. This study examined victimized youth’s emotions and social appraisals following four common third-party peer actions. African American, European American, Mexican American, and Native American adolescents (N = 257, 53% female, Mage = 15 years) described their emotions and appraisals of third-party peer actions after the participants had been targets of peer aggression. Emotional well-being, indexed by low levels of internalizing emotions and high levels of positive emotions, was greater after third-parties tried to help participants calm their emotions and resolve problems than after third-parties amplified participants’ anger or avenged the victimized participants. Emotional well-being was greater after third-party revenge than after third-parties amplified participants’ anger. Participants also reported calming, resolving and to a lesser extent third-party revenge were more helpful, valued, and evoked a greater desire to reciprocate than anger amplification. Few ethnic differences were found. The authors found that youth feel more positive and less internalizing emotion after victimization when peers helped them calm their emotions and resolve conflicts; youth feel the least proud, relieved and grateful when peers have amplified their anger about a victimization event; victimized youth view peers who helped them calm and deal with conflicts as helpful and valuable advisors; despite mixed emotions after peers’ third-party revenge, victimized youth are highly grateful and wish to repay the favor; results provide educators and adolescent peers with strategies to promote the wellbeing of victimized youth from ethnically diverse backgrounds. (Public Abstract Provided)