Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bullying is good for your mental health, self-esteem, and social status

From Survival of the Fittest and the Sexiest: Evolutionary Origins of Adolescent Bullying by Jun-Bin Koh and Jennifer S. Wong. Only 135 kids and from only one school so indicative at best. Abstract.
The central idea of evolutionary psychology theory (EPT) is that species evolve to carry or exhibit certain traits/behaviors because these characteristics increase their ability to survive and reproduce. Proponents of EPT propose that bullying emerges from evolutionary development, providing an adaptive edge for gaining better sexual opportunities and physical protection, and promoting mental health. This study examines adolescent bullying behaviors via the lens of EPT. Questionnaires were administered to 135 adolescents, ages 13 to 16, from one secondary school in metro Vancouver, British Columbia. Participants were categorized into one of four groups (bullies, victims, bully/victims, or bystanders) according to their involvement in bullying interactions as measured by the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. Four dependent variables were examined: depression, self-esteem, social status, and social anxiety. Results indicate that bullies had the most positive scores on mental health measures and held the highest social rank in the school environment, with significant differences limited to comparisons between bullies and bully/victims. These results lend support to the hypothesis that youth bullying is derived from evolutionary development. Implications for approaching anti-bullying strategies in schools and directions for future studies are discussed.
Rolf Degen's summary provides a little more meat.
The purpose of the present study was to test whether adolescent bullying emerges from evolutionary development. Specifically, we examined whether bullying was naturally and/or sexually selected, and posed two questions to test these hypotheses. The first aim of the study was to examine differences in mental health among bullies, victims, and bully/victims, operationalized as depression, self-esteem, and social status... Bullies exhibited the lowest levels of depression among the four groups and were identified as having few to no symptoms of depression. In contrast, victims and particularly, bully/victims had the highest scores among the groups and were identified as suffering moderate to high levels of depression. The differences in average scores on the BDI were most glaring between bullies and bully/victims, where bullies had significantly lower levels of depression.... In addition, bullies exhibited the highest levels of self-esteem among the four groups, while bully/victims had the lowest.. Bullies were found to have a higher social status than all other groups involved in bullying interactions... Combined, these findings suggest that being a bully promotes better mental health, whether it is through the bullying behaviors themselves, or as a corollary of being a bully (i.e., being placed higher in the social rank)... Bullies gain a sexual advantage from wielding a high social status. This is because social status is a highly desirable attribute, which is an indirect indicator of one's resources.
Not quite what was meant by the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, but pretty close. We are born predisposed to be bullies because that is what has worked in the past. That is a pretty regrettable hand to be dealt.


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