Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Suzanne Benack




behavior, childhood psychology, schools, self-esteem, adolescence


Carol Gilligan has focused much of her research on the psychological and behavioral changes girls undergo as they move from childhood to adolescence. She noticed that these girls suffer from depression, anxiety, eating disorders and changes in interactions and social processing. In addition, adolescent girls begin to utilize indirect aggression against their female peers as a means of normative interaction. My research compares the reactions of freshmen versus senior women at Union College to a situation in which one female uses indirect aggression towards another female peer. My hypothesis was that senior women will exhibit a greater level sympathy for the victim and less understanding for the perpetrator than will freshman women. I also thought that for both age-groups self esteem would correlate negatively with amount of sympathy for the victim, where high self-esteem means a lower level of sympathy. The subjects’ reactions towards the indirect aggression and a measure of their self-esteem were determined using the Rosenberg self-esteem scale, a self-created survey, and two forms of the adult indirect aggression scale. My results did not support my hypothesis directly; however they did conclude that freshmen witness peer victimization more so than seniors. Also, although there was no relationship between self-esteem and sympathy, the results revealed that seniors with higher self-esteem find the perpetrators’ behaviors as less understandable and not typical.