Exploring Life History Strategies in Adolescence; Attachment, Personality, and Bullying
The purpose of the present study was to apply a component of Evolutionary Theory, termed Life History Strategy (LHS), to the study of bullying. The current study aimed to highlight the relationship between environmental pressures, slow and fast LHS, and bullying subtypes. A sample of 261 participants (125 males and 135 females) between the ages of 12 and 18 (M = 14.67, SD = 1.84) was collected from adolescents participating in extracurricular activities. Participants first filled out a questionnaire package assessing: Life History Strategy, bullying frequency, socio-economic status, sexual activity, personality, and attachment. Participants were then randomly assigned to an experimental group, which were primed with a mortality cue, or a control group, which were not primed. Following the priming, participants responded to six hypothetical bullying scenarios. It was predicted that participants with a fast LHS are more likely to use direct forms of bullying and participants with a slow LHS are more likely to use indirect forms of bullying. The results revealed that the prime manipulation was not effective; however, participants with a fast LHS did engage in more verbal bullying (F (1, 261) = 5.27, p <.05) with physical bullying approaching significance. Participants with a fast LHS also had higher levels of avoidant (1, 261) =42.54, p<.05) and anxious (F (1, 261) = 15.56, p<.05) attachment styles. In the present study, individuals with a fast LHS engaged in more direct forms of bullying. These results suggest that environmental pressures can increase the use of bullying as an adaptive strategy. This further highlights the need for interventions to incorporate elements of cost/benefit models that consider bullying as an adaptive strategy which is utilized differently based on environmental circumstances.