The revealing effect of power: Popularity moderates the associations of personal values with aggression in adolescence

Tammy Rubel-Lifschitz, Maya Benish-Weisman, Claudio V. Torres, Kristina McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Values have been found to predict aggressive behavior in adolescents. Adolescents who endorse self-enhancement values typically exhibit more aggressive behaviors, while adolescents who endorse self-transcendent values are less likely to behave aggressively. The associations between values and aggression are low to moderate, suggesting that other factors might moderate them. The study examined whether these associations were moderated by adolescent popularity, an indication of social power. Method: The study included 906 adolescents from three cultures: Brazilians (N = 244), Jewish citizens of Israel (N = 250), and Arabic citizens of Israel (N = 409). Personal values were assessed using the Portrait Values Questionnaire (PVQ). Peer nominations were used to assess direct aggression and popularity. Results: Popularity moderated the associations between values and aggression: while the aggressive behavior of popular adolescents was highly associated with their personal values, the behavior of unpopular adolescents was unrelated to their values. This effect consistently emerged across samples, with specific variations for gender and culture. Conclusion: Popularity enables adolescents to act according to their personal values: aggressive behaviors increase or decrease according to personal value priorities. The strength of this effect depends on cultural expectations and gender roles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)786-802
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Jacobs Foundation to the second and the fourth authors, and a grant from the “National Council for Scientific and Technological Development—CNPq, grant number PQ‐301298/2018‐1” to the third author, and a grant from Shaine Center for Research in Social Sciences to the first author. We thank Alex Bucevschi, Lilach Sagiv, Ella Daniel, Yaniv Kanat Maymon, and Avi Kluger for the helpful advice and feedback.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • adolescence
  • aggression
  • popularity
  • social power
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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