The bright side of positive perceptual bias: Children's estimations of network centrality and aggression

Jennifer Watling Neal, Elise Cappella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study explores whether findings linking positive perceptual bias to childhood aggression extend to perceptual bias in network centrality. We present data from nested regression models that examine associations between perceptual bias in network centrality and aggressive behavior in a sample of 421 urban African American second through fourth grade students. Children who overestimated their network centrality compared to peer-reports were less likely to be nominated by peers as overtly or relationally aggressive. Results run counter to threatened egotism theory, and instead support a resource control theory explanation of perceptual bias and aggression. Specifically, aggressive children may strategically limit the number of peers they report "hanging out with" to maintain social status within their peer group. Findings imply that not all forms of positive perceptual bias have a "dark side".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-151
Number of pages12
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014



  • Children
  • Network centrality
  • Overt aggression
  • Perceptual bias
  • Relational aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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