Saturday, August 01, 2015
HT Mockingbird: new study finds bullies have highest self-esteem, social status, but lowest rates of depression
“Humans tend to try to establish a rank hierarchy,” says Jennifer Wong, the criminology professor who led the study. “When you’re in high school, it’s a very limited arena in which you can establish your rank, and climbing the social ladder to be on top is one of the main ways … Bullying is a tool you can use to get there.”
Meanwhile, separate research Volk is working on offers more evidence bolstering the concept: the bullies among 178 teenagers surveyed by the professor and his colleagues got more sex than everyone else.
“The average bully isn’t particularly sadistic or even deeply argumentative,” he says. “What they really are is people driven for status.”
That people who resort to aggression tend to have high self esteem dates back decades to research and writing from Roy Baumeister and others. Baumeister has said that people with high but unstable self-esteem are most likely to resort to violence to preserve their self-perception. It's relatively new to propose that the real bullies, or the alpha bullies if you will, have truly high self-esteem and that that esteem is probably stable and that their social status is pretty secure, and that they even have the lowest rates of depression.
What might we infer from this if this set of conclusions is true?
We pretend we detest bullies but we don't. We celebrate them if they are bullies for causes we admire.