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Dwelling on it may make it worse: The links between relational victimization, relational aggression, rumination, and depressive symptoms in adolescents

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 July 2014

Lindsay C. Mathieson
Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, Vancouver
Bonnie Klimes-Dougan
University of Minnesota
Nicki R. Crick
University of Minnesota
E-mail address:


Although there is considerable evidence that relational victimization is associated with depressive symptoms in youth, our understanding about the mechanisms by which victimization and depressive symptoms are linked is limited. The current study explored ruminating about victimization experiences as a potential mechanism that might contribute to an understanding of the association between relational victimization and depressive symptoms. We also tested the specificity of the proposed models by controlling for and testing parallel models of a highly related behavior: relational aggression. A sample of 499 adolescents from sixth through eighth grades participated. Teacher reports were used to assess relational victimization and relational aggression. Self-reports were used to assess depressive symptoms and rumination. The results showed that rumination partially mediated the association between relational victimization and depressive symptoms. No moderation effect was found. In contrast, rumination moderated the association between relational aggression and depressive symptoms. Specifically, relational aggression was associated with depressive symptoms for those adolescents who were also ruminators. Thus, ruminating about victimization experiences appears to be an important mechanism that functions differently for relational aggression and relational victimization in conferring risk for depressive symptoms. The findings offer important practical implications for those working with adolescents and also lay the groundwork for future research.

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Dwelling on it may make it worse: The links between relational victimization, relational aggression, rumination, and depressive symptoms in adolescents
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