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The interplay of emotional awareness and emotion regulation strategies in peer victimization Low, Sok Yee 2015

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THE INTERPLAY OF EMOTIONAL AWARENESS AND EMOTION REGULATION STRATEGIES IN PEER VICTIMIZATION by  SOK YEE LOW   A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Human Development, Learning and Culture)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)   October 2015  © Sok Yee Low, 2015 ii  Abstract  Peer victimization is an emotionally charged experience, one that is all too common in schools today. Although there is an increasing body of research on the emotional processes involved in bullying and victimization, we still know very little about emotional competencies and emotion regulation strategies used by children that enhance or reduce their risk of being victimized at school. This study examined two interrelated components of emotional competence: emotional awareness and the use of two well-researched emotion regulation strategies- cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, and their association with school victimization. In particular, the study investigated the contribution of children’s levels of emotional awareness to their risk of victimization, and how using an antecedent-focused strategy such as reappraisal, or a response-focused strategy such as suppression influences this relationship. Participants were 607 students in grades 4-7 who completed self-report measures of emotional awareness, emotion regulation strategy use (cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression), and experiences of victimization at school. Ordinary least squares regression analyses were conducted to explore the associations between low emotional awareness and the use of specific emotion regulation strategies. Results indicated that low emotional awareness was a predictor for the use of suppression as an emotion regulation strategy. Results of binary logistic regression analysis, examining the contributions of low emotional awareness and the use of suppression and reappraisal to reported victimization showed that low emotional awareness was associated with increased odds of being victimized, and that the use of suppression as an emotion regulation strategy decreased the odds of being victimized. For this age group, then, using suppression as an emotion regulation strategy is adaptive for decreasing the risk of victimization, particularly for children with low emotional awareness. iii  Preface This dissertation is an original intellectual product of the author, S.Y. Low. The study described in chapter two was part of a larger, ongoing study of School Climate and Bullying conducted by the Social and Emotional Education and Development Lab at the University of British Columbia, overseen by Dr. Shelley Hymel. The project was approved by the University of British Columbia’s Research Ethics Board [UBC BREB # H14-00894].  The measures described in section 2.3 were selected by the author. Data was collected in collaboration with other lab members. The data analysis in Chapter 3 is the author’s original work.    iv  Table of Contents  Abstract .......................................................................................................................................... ii	  Preface ........................................................................................................................................... iii	  Table of Contents .......................................................................................................................... iv	  List of Tables ................................................................................................................................. vi	  Acknowledgements ...................................................................................................................... vii	  Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................................ 1	  1.1	   Emotions ............................................................................................................................. 4	  1.1.1	   Emotional Awareness ..................................................................................................... 4	  1.1.2	   Emotion Regulation ........................................................................................................ 7	  1.1.2.1	   Two Emotion Regulation Strategies ..................................................................... 9	  1.1.2.1.1	   Cognitive Reappraisal ................................................................................. 10	  1.1.2.1.2	   Expressive Suppression ............................................................................... 11	  1.2	   Research Questions and Hypotheses ................................................................................ 13	  Chapter 2: Method ...................................................................................................................... 16	  2.1	   Sample .............................................................................................................................. 16	  2.2	   Procedure .......................................................................................................................... 17	  2.3	   Measures ........................................................................................................................... 17	  2.3.1	   Emotional Awareness ................................................................................................... 17	  2.3.2	   Emotion Regulation ...................................................................................................... 19	  2.3.3	   Victimization ................................................................................................................ 20	  Chapter 3: Results ....................................................................................................................... 22	  v  3.1 Preliminary Results ............................................................................................................. 22	  3.2	  Primary Analyses ................................................................................................................ 24	  Chapter 4   Discussion ................................................................................................................. 27	  3.1	   Implications ...................................................................................................................... 31	  References .................................................................................................................................... 34	  Appendix ...................................................................................................................................... 43	  Appendix A : Questionnaire ..................................................................................................... 43	   vi  List of Tables  Table 3.1 Means and Standard Deviations across Sex and Grades ............................................... 22	  Table 3.2 Means and Standard Deviations across Schools ........................................................... 23	  Table 3.3 Results of Binary Logistic Regression .......................................................................... 25	  	     vii  Acknowledgements  This research project would not have been possible without the help and support of many colleagues, friends and family members that I am lucky to have by my side. I extend my gratitude to the faculty, staff and fellow students in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education at UBC, particularly to my colleagues in the Social and Emotional Education and Development lab, for their encouragement, ideas and feedback. The help and support of Jessica Trach, Lindsay Starosta, Matt Lee and Ellen Shumka in my academic endeavors merits special mention.  I also extend my appreciation to all the students that participated in this study for the time and effort they gave to sharing their thoughts and experiences, to their families, and the teachers and staff at participating schools for their support.  I will always be grateful to Dr. Shelley Hymel, who has been instrumental in my growth as a researcher, teaching me to think deeper with many sharp (yet kind) questions, and ever thoughtful and thorough feedback. Special thanks are owed to Drs. Amery Wu, Kimberley Schonert-Reichl, and Martin Guhn, for their guidance as members of my committee.  I am thankful to my friends Michelle Sipl, Miriam Miller, Silvia Mazabel, Renira Vellos, Christine Klerian and Sarah Brown for their never-faltering friendship and support, that have kept me nourished and entertained along this journey. Finally, I wish to express heartfelt appreciation and love to my husband, whose unyielding support and encouragement have been critical to the completion of this thesis. And to my two children, who provide me with moments of inspiration and joy that keep me going. viii  Dedication For all the teachers in my life, whose guidance and wisdom have shaped who I am today, and continue to prepare me for the greater learning and work ahead. For my parents, whose commitment to my development and well-being from the very beginning is a privilege and gift that I continue to benefit from. For my husband, whom, like caffeine and cake, have been a comforting and energizing companion through long days and nights of writing. And finally, for my gorgeous children Sianna and Rhysa, without whom this thesis would have been completed two years earlier. But it wouldn’t have been as fun.  1  Chapter 1: Introduction School is a special place in childhood where many children spend a great portion of their young lives- learning, playing, making friends and enemies, and finding out about themselves, others and the world. For the time that is spent in school, and the learning that it affords (academic and otherwise), schools play a very important role in the development of children’s minds, hearts and spirits. Yet research shows that many of our children do not feel safe in schools today. One third of youth worldwide report involvement in incidents of bullying as either a bully or victim (WHO, 2008), and in Canada, 35% of children report being victimized at school at least once in the past few months. In fact, prevalence rates of bullying and victimization in Canada are higher than two-thirds of the OECD countries (UNICEF, 2013).   The harmful effects of victimization have been well researched. Children who are on the receiving end of peer aggression suffer increased risk for psychological, emotional and social maladjustment (see McDougall & Vaillancourt, 2015, for a review). Being victimized can darken children’s lives, with links to loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, social dissatisfaction, and unsurprisingly, negative school attitudes and school absenteeism (Swearer & Hymel, 2015). Victimization has also been linked to mental health issues, such as elevated rates of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and diagnoses of conduct disorders, depression, attention deficit disorders, and anxiety disorders (e.g., Kumpulainen, Räsänen, & Puura, 2001; Swearer & Hymel, 2015) and to neurobiological changes (see Vaillancourt, Hymel, & McDougall, 2013 for a review).  Bullying and peer victimization is, undoubtedly, a serious problem in schools today.  However, school victimization experiences vary widely. It is evident that not all children who are picked on, harassed or otherwise targeted by peers continue to be subsequently 2  victimized. In a recent study examining the longitudinal stability of victimization through middle school, Baly and colleagues (2014) found that 12% of students in their sample were persistently bullied throughout middle school, compared to 49% who were never bullied, and 39% who were “sometimes bullied” over 3 years. Frequency of victimization has been shown to really matter in its differential effects on children. Children who were frequently victimized have been found to present with continuously elevated levels of internalizing problems (e.g., Rosen, Underwood, Beron, Gentsch, Wharton, & Rahdar, 2009) and compromised academic outcomes (e.g., Rueger, Malecki, & Demaray, 2011), whereas children who were occasionally victimized did not show such effects. In their longitudinal study, Baly and colleagues (2014) found cumulative peer-reported victimization over three years to predict more disciplinary infractions and poorer academic outcomes, and students who reported high levels of victimization were more likely to feel sad and hopeless, engage in risky behavior, get into physical fights, and report suicidal tendencies. These findings underscore the importance for research examining individual differences in children’s victimization experiences and the factors that may contribute to those differences. Against this backdrop, the present study explored the degree to which victimization is associated with individual differences in children’s emotional competencies, in particular their level of emotional awareness, and their selection of emotion regulation strategies.   Many studies have confirmed that peer victimization is an emotionally charged experience, and is predictive of a host of emotions that determine subsequent behavioral responses (e.g., Champion & Clay, 2007; Kochenderfer-Ladd, 2004). Not surprisingly, victims report experiencing greater intensity of negative emotions in response to peer provocation compared to non-victims (Kochenderfer-Ladd, 2004). And these emotional experiences are linked to a range of responses, many of which are maladaptive for psychological functioning, 3  and increase the risk of repeat provocation. Specifically, emotional responses such as crying, striking back, or displays of helplessness and sadness have been shown to be ineffective in stopping bullying, and predictive of repeated victimization (Champion & Clay, 2007; Hodges & Perry, 1999; Kochenderfer & Ladd, 1997; Shields & Cichetti, 2001). In particular, reactive aggression, driven by anger and impulsivity, has been shown to prolong victimization, both within a bullying episode and over time (Kochenderfer & Ladd, 1997; Wilton, Craig, & Pepler, 2000).   Despite a small, but increasing body of research on the emotional processes involved in bullying and victimization (to be reviewed below), we still know very little about emotional strategies and competencies that may enhance or reduce children’s risk for victimization. Thus, the primary goal of this study was to identify emotional competencies that are associated with being victimized at school. In particular, this study examined two interrelated components of emotional competence: emotional awareness and emotion regulation, and their relationship with school victimization.    This study focused on middle childhood, a critical period for children’s development of social and emotional skills, as they take on greater autonomy (Cole, Michel, & Teti, 1994; Lewis, Zinbarg, & Durbin, 2010). At these ages, children are developing the capacity for a more complex understanding of emotions, and engage in more sophisticated strategies for emotion regulation than younger children (Eisenberg & Spinrad, 2004). Moreover, patterns of emotion regulation, such as strategy use, are believed to become more stable and trait-like during middle childhood (Cole et al., 1994; Cole & Kaslow, 1988).  4  1.1 Emotions Emotions have been studied from many perspectives. This study draws on the functional theory of emotions (Campos, Campos, & Barrett, 1989), which posits that behavior is organized and motivated by emotions via ‘‘processes of establishing, maintaining, or disrupting, relations between the person and the internal or external environment, when such relations are significant to the individual’’ (p. 395). Based on this theory, emotions are immediately responsive to internal and external events, and in turn exert influence on internal experiences and external actions through processes that are separate from other developmental systems, such as cognition (Cicchetti, Ackerman, & Izard, 1995; Saarni, 1999). A person’s physiological arousal, subjective feeling state and cognitions are interrelated factors that potentially influence the individual’s expressive displays and behavioral choices in any social situation. Moreover, these emotion-driven expressions and behaviors communicate one’s reaction and intent to others, which in turn has the potential to influence the other’s thoughts, feelings and actions, leading to interactions that can become a pattern over time. To study the dynamics of a social phenomenon such as victimization without an examination of the emotion processes that are intricately connected to it is to know only part of the story. The present study addressed this gap by examining the relationship between two critical emotional skills -- emotional awareness and emotion regulation -- and their links to school victimization. 1.1.1 Emotional Awareness  Emotional awareness is widely accepted as a fundamental skill for emotional competence and affective social competence (Halberstadt, Denham, & Dunsmore, 2001; Saarni, 1999). Lane and Schwartz (1987) define emotional awareness as a cognitive processing of emotions, presented as an ability to identify and describe one’s own emotional experiences and that of 5  others. The current study engages their cognitive-developmental theory of emotional awareness, which conceptualizes emotional awareness as a cognitive skill that undergoes developmental stages structurally parallel to Piaget’s stages of cognitive development. According to Lane and Schwartz (1987), emotional awareness increases across development, following increasingly complex and differentiated experiences of emotions. At the basic level of emotional awareness (during infancy), emotions are experienced as global feeling states, of overall distress or contentment. This level of awareness is mostly physical, experienced as bodily sensations and expressed behaviorally as desires and satisfaction of the infant. As children develop tools (e.g., language) and the cognitive capacity for more abstract representation, the experience and understanding of emotions become more complex and differentiated. Awareness of emotions expands from bodily sensations to include action tendencies, and grows from the awareness of single emotions to blends of emotions. At the highest level of emotional awareness, a person is able to understand that he/she is experiencing multiple emotions at the same time, and is able to differentiate, at a nuanced level, between the emotions in him/herself and others.   Lane and Schwartz (1987) posit an intimate relationship between a person’s level of emotional awareness and his/her internal experience of an emotional situation. That is, how an emotion is experienced internally is determined by the existing structure of emotion knowledge one has to receive the emotion. To explain this phenomenon, Lane and Schwartz use the analogy of how Inuit children, with an expansive language for and previous comprehensive knowledge of snow, can perceive and experience differentiations on a snowy day that may be one-dimensional to a child from Florida. “In a manner analogous to the example of snow, the internal world of emotional arousal has the potential to be perceived or introspected in an infinite number of ways, limited only by the knowledge one has beforehand of one’s own emotional life” (Lane & 6  Schwartz, 1987, p. 135). Emotional experience is hence conceptualized to be an observer-dependent reality; how one feels in a situation depends on the knowledge, and the organization of knowledge available to help him/her make sense and meaning of it, which is emotional awareness. Accordingly, one’s level of emotional awareness is posited to be a key factor in explaining why the same event could trigger very different emotions, and different intensities of these emotional experiences, in different individuals. For example, in the face of peer provocation, children with high levels of emotional awareness may be better able to differentiate between the anger they feel toward the aggressor, the embarrassment of being publicly shunned, or the sadness of being left out. Because they can differentiate among these emotions, these children are able to accurately identify the main source of their emotional state, and thus are more able to respond in a way suited to their goals (Feldman Barrett, Gross, Christensen, & Benvenuto, 2001). Differentiated emotions provide more information about the situation, and greater options for responding. Indeed, the ability to differentiate emotion is linked to more frequent use of emotion regulation, and use of a wider range of emotion regulation strategies (Feldman Barrett et al., 2001). Children with low levels of emotional awareness, in not being able to understand or differentiate their feelings, often feel overwhelmed which in turn compromises their ability to regulate their emotions and modulate their responses (Schwartz & Proctor, 2000).  Thus, emotional awareness is a critical precursor to effective emotion regulation (Gottman, Katz, & Hooven, 1997; Izard, Woodburn, Finlon, Krauthamer-Ewing, Grossman, & Seidenfeld, 2011; Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios, 2001).  Connections between emotional awareness and emotion regulation have been well established in the literature. In fact, Lane and Schwartz (1987) posit that emotional awareness is 7  integrated into the very structure upon which emotion regulation emerges. Scholars in the field have shown emotion regulation efforts to be highly related to awareness of emotion (Izard et al., 2011; Mayer et al., 2001; Saarni, 1999). For example, low emotional awareness has been found to correlate positively with non-constructive emotion inhibition and dysregulation, and inversely with positive, constructive coping of sadness and anger (Penza-Clyve & Zeman, 2002). As well, Lane and Pollerman (2002) found high emotional awareness to be related to greater self-reported impulse control.   To date there have been no known studies that explore the relationship between emotional awareness and emotion regulation in the context of peer victimization at school. Being at the receiving end of physical, verbal, social or cyber provocation presents formidable emotional challenges for a child, and if a victim is not able to differentiate and understand how he or she feels, or to gain a cognitive understanding of his or her internal emotional experience, it is very difficult to gain the distance and traction required to resolve the emotional problem, and decrease the level of distress. Under these circumstances, the student’s capacity for emotion regulation will be compromised, putting him/her at exacerbated risk for subsequent victimization. By examining the relationship between emotional awareness and victimization, this study provides valuable information that could inform and enhance interventions that help children build resilience against peer victimization. 1.1.2 Emotion Regulation  Emotion regulation (ER) refers to the process by which people influence how emotions are experienced and expressed (Gross, 1998). The emotion regulation process includes regulatory functions, when emotions perceived to be adaptive are augmented to serve a goal (e.g., anger can be adaptive as a motivational force to right an injustice); and also regulated functions, 8  when emotions perceived to be unconstructive to goals are down-regulated (e.g., muting excitement which could be perceived as ‘uncool’ in certain social contexts) (Eisenberg & Spinrad, 2004). Again drawing on the functionalist theory of emotion (Campos et al., 1989), the present study focuses on the communicative function of emotions within the context of social interactions, suggesting that emotion regulation is critical for positive social development.   Most children practice some form of emotion regulation. For example, Zeman and Garber (2006) found that children report often trying to control their emotional expressions in the presence of peers. Children who are able to regulate their emotions are more likely to display emotions in adaptive and socially acceptable ways. In contrast, children with difficulties in emotion regulation tend to express emotions in dysfunctional and relatively extreme ways and are perceived to be less socially competent (Eisenberg, Fabes, Guthrie, & Reiser, 2000; Hubbard & Coie, 1994).  There is a considerable body of research linking childhood victimization to deficits in emotion regulation (Balding, Wilkinson, Johnson, Walsh, Thompson, & Wright, 2002). Some studies have focused on victimized children’s’ displays of anger, and have documented significant relationships between low ability to modulate the expression of anger, and victimization (Champion & Clay, 2007). Moreover, victims who are unable to regulate their expression of anger are found to invite further hostile interactions from their aggressors (Pellegrini, Bartini, Brooks, 1999; Poulin & Boivin, 2000; Shields & Cichetti, 2001). Beyond anger, victimization has also been linked to failure to regulate displays of distress, sadness and helplessness (Hodges & Perry, 1999). In contrast, children who respond to peer provocation with nonchalance, or display expressions of neutrality, reduce their risk of repeat victimization, 9  compared to expressions of positive or negative emotion (Salmivalli, Karhunen, & Lagerspetz, 1996).    There are several reasons that can explain why some children who are victimized have difficulty regulating their emotions. One well-researched reason is emotionality- it is difficult to regulate emotional experience and behavior when one commonly experiences emotions with great intensity. Research confirms that children who experience intense negative emotionality have difficulty regulating those emotions (e.g., Eisenberg, Fabes, Guthrie & Reiser, 2000). Furthermore, being victimized is an emotionally intense experience. Champion and Clay (2007) found that victimized children report feeling higher intensities of anger than non-victims, and Kochenderfer-Ladd (2004) found victimized children to report higher emotional reactivity than other children. Schwartz and colleagues (1997) found that this particular combination of intense emotional experiences and inability to control emotions to be the most prominent predictor of peer victimization. The current study adds to this literature by examining two specific emotion regulation strategies- cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, and their association with low emotional awareness, and victimization. 1.1.2.1 Two Emotion Regulation Strategies   Depending on their goals, people commonly try to increase emotions that make them feel good (such as love, joy, interest) and decrease emotions that make them feel uncomfortable (such as sadness, anger and anxiety), utilizing a wide range of strategies to help them regulate the inner experiences of the emotions, and modulate the outward expression of these emotions (Gross, Richards & John, 2006). Gross (2001) proposed that such emotion regulation strategies can be differentiated according to where they are engaged and exert primary impact along an unfolding emotion generative process. The emotion generative process begins with attention to, and 10  subsequently an evaluation of, emotion cues. These evaluations then trigger off a set of response tendencies that can be behavioral, physiological, or experiential. In particular, two major classes of emotion regulation strategies have been distinguished in the literature (Gross, 2002): 1) Antecedent-focused emotion regulation, which occurs early in the process, before the emotional response tendencies are fully activated and has impacted physiology and behavior, and 2) Response-focused emotion regulation, which occurs later in the process, and generally involves emotion modulation after the full activation of response tendencies. The present study considers two of the most common antecedent-focused and response-focused strategies identified in the literature, respectively - cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression (Gross, 2002; Gross & John, 2003). While both antecedent-focused and response-focused strategies can be adaptive for regulating emotional behavior, these strategies vary in their efficacy for modulating the inner emotional experience, and are associated with different outcomes in interpersonal functioning and personal well-being over the long term (Gross & John, 2003). The following sections describe each strategy and their associated outcomes, in greater detail. 1.1.2.1.1 Cognitive Reappraisal  Cognitive reappraisal is an antecedent-focused strategy, occurring early in the emotion-generative process, that involves changing the way one thinks about an emotionally stimulating situation with the goal of diminishing its emotional impact. Studies have shown that antecedent-focused strategies such as cognitive reappraisal are generally associated with more positive outcomes, both individually and socially, such as increased positive affect and decreased negative affect (Gross & Thompson, 2007), improved memory and cognitive performance (Richards & Gross, 2000; Szczygieł, Buczny & Bazinska, 2012), and greater peer liking and overall well-being (Ryff & Keyes 1995). 11  1.1.2.1.2 Expressive Suppression  Expressive suppression is a response-focused, behavioral strategy that occurs late in the emotion-generative process, and involves inhibiting the expressive behaviors elicited by emotions already fully activated. While effective in regulating outward expressions of emotion, response-focused strategies such as expressive suppression are generally perceived as less adaptive than antecedent-focused strategies, and have been associated with negative outcomes such as less experience of positive affect, and less awareness and clarity of emotions (John & Gross, 2003). Some research have shown suppression to have no effect on decreasing the experience of negative affect; in fact, some studies show increased physiological symptoms of emotion (i.e., intensified emotional experience) that can result in trauma that is deeper and more prolonged (Gross, 2002; Szczygiel, Buczny & Bazińska, 2012).   Impaired cognitive functioning has also been found with the use of expressive suppression (Gross, 2002; Szczygiel, Buczny, & Bazińska, 2012), interfering with adaptive decision-making. Such effects are not evident with antecedent-focused strategies. Negative social outcomes are also associated with suppression. Individuals who habitually suppress their emotions have been shown to have fewer close relationships and less social support, perhaps due to them sharing less (positive as well as negative) emotions with others, and report greater discomfort with closeness and sharing in their relationships (Gross & John, 2003). Habitual use of suppression has also been linked to depression and anxiety symptoms (Gross & John, 2003).   It is worth noting that the research cited above on the longer term outcomes associated with using either strategy are based on studies with participants in late adolescence or older, and there is very little existing research on such effects with children. 12   Even though the two strategies examined in the present study vary in longer term outcomes, it is important to note that both suppression and reappraisal have been found to be effective for regulating outward displays of emotion. With the literature linking victimization to failure to regulate displays of emotion in mind (Champion & Clay, 2007; Hodges & Perry, 1999; Shields & Cichetti, 2001; Salmivalli, Karhunen, & Lagerspetz, 1996), it would seem that using any strategy that allows the individual to modify his or her expression of emotion is better than not using any strategy at all, for reducing the risk of victimization. Even though suppression is clearly a less sophisticated strategy associated with a host of problematic longer term outcomes, individuals who frequently use either strategy may perceive themselves to be successful at emotion regulation, compared to individuals who seldom regulate their emotional displays. It is also worth noting here that the use of these emotion regulation strategies do not always function in isolation of one another (Gross et al., 2006); it is possible that individuals use a combination of strategies, depending on context and other individual and environmental factors. Gross and John (2003) also caution against assumptions that emotion regulation strategies are executed consciously (which the term ‘strategy’ implies); noting that often these regulatory processes may be executed unconsciously, with little deliberation and awareness.  The present study extends our understanding of the links between emotion regulation and victimization by examining specific strategies of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression used by children, in relation to their reports of being victimized. This study also examined the relationships between low emotional awareness and the use of these two emotion regulation strategies, and whether these relationships are differentially predictive of victimization.  13  1.2 Research Questions and Hypotheses  The present study examined the association between low emotional awareness and emotion regulation strategies used by children in middle childhood, and also investigated the hypothesis that both low emotional awareness, and the use of particular emotion regulation strategies contribute to student risk for peer victimization. Specifically, the goals of this study are threefold:  Firstly, although the connection between emotional awareness and emotion regulation has been established, there is limited evidence on links between emotional awareness and the emotion regulation strategies used by pre-adolescent children. The present study explored these relationships by asking children about their emotions as well as their use of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression strategies. It was expected that strong emotional awareness would be positively related to cognitive reappraisal, and negatively related to expressive suppression based on the following rationale. Because reappraisal is a cognitive strategy that is engaged early in a potentially emotion-eliciting situation, a sound awareness and understanding of one’s own emotions is a necessary precursor. For example, a child who is attuned to his early signs of getting angry and knows what thoughts are fuelling this anger is better able to change the way he is thinking so as to change the potential emotional impact of the situation. In contrast, suppression is a behavioral strategy that involves little more than holding in or shutting down emotions, and requires little attention to and understanding of the emotions at play (Gross & John, 2003). The child in this case may just clench his fists and bite his lip to hold in his anger. Indeed, suppression may be the most accessible way for an individual to regulate emotions that he/she does not understand. The results of this study are expected to replicate Eastabrook, Flynn, and Hollenstein (2014) who 14  found that high emotional awareness was positively correlated with reappraisal, and negatively with suppression, at least among female adolescents.  Secondly, although emotional awareness is widely recognized as a foundational skill for social and emotional competence, there is no research to date that directly examines its contributions to peer victimization. This study investigated this relationship by looking at children’s level of emotional awareness and their reports of being victimized by peers. As demonstrated in the review of literature above, the links between emotional awareness and emotion regulation, and between emotion regulation and victimization, are well-established. Research shows adaptive emotion regulation efforts and high self-reported impulse control to be related to strong awareness of emotion (Izard et al., 2011; Lane & Pollerman, 2002; Mayer et al., 2001; Saarni, 1999). Conversely, poor emotional awareness has been positively associated with non-constructive emotion dysregulation (Penza-Clyve & Zeman, 2002). Significant links have also been demonstrated between poor emotion regulation and peer victimization (Balding et al., 2002; Champion & Clay, 2007; Hodges & Perry, 1999; Kochenderfer-Ladd, 2004; Poulin & Boivin, 2000; Shields & Cichetti, 2001). Since research has demonstrated that children who have poor levels of emotional awareness have greater difficulty regulating their emotional behavior, and children who more emotionally reactive are at greater risk of victimization, it is expected that poor emotional awareness will predict victimization  A third goal of this study was to investigate whether the relationship between emotional awareness and victimization is moderated by use of particular emotion regulation strategies. No study to date has examined these emotion processes in victimization, but predictions were made based on two studies that have examined the relationships between emotional awareness, the emotion regulation strategies of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, and related 15  outcomes. In one experimental study investigating how the use of specific emotion regulation strategies moderated the relationship between emotional awareness and the cognitive processing of emotional information after an unpleasant experience, Szczygieł and colleagues (2011) found that, while participants with high emotional awareness made fewer cognitive mistakes after experiencing unpleasant emotions than participants with low emotional awareness, these effects were only evident in the groups who suppressed their emotions, masked their emotions, and the control group. For participants who used reappraisal to regulate their emotions during the event, there was no significant increase in error processing regardless of whether they had high or low emotional awareness. In another study, Eastabrook et al. (2014) found that low reappraisal had a significant effect on the relationships between emotional awareness and depressive symptoms in adolescent females, and high suppression of emotions had a significant effect on the relationship between emotional awareness and social anxiety in the same sample. Based on these studies, it is expected that the two emotion regulation strategies will interact with low emotional awareness towards different outcomes in victimization.   Thus the three main research questions in this study are: 1. What are the associations between emotional awareness and the emotion regulation strategies of Cognitive Reappraisal and Expressive Suppression among pre-adolescents?  2. Does poor emotional awareness predict victimization? 3. Does using emotion regulation strategies of Cognitive Reappraisal or Expressive Suppression interact with emotional awareness towards different outcomes in being victimized?  16  Chapter 2: Method  Data for this study was collected as part of a larger, ongoing, five-year study examining the relationships between school climate and bullying in lower mainland schools in British Columbia, Canada.  2.1 Sample   The sample for this study consisted of 607 students in grades four to seven (47% boys and 53% girls), recruited from four schools in two school districts in southern British Columbia. Participants ranged in age from 9 to 13 years of age (M = 10.9, SD = 1.2) and was ethnically diverse, with 24% identifying themselves as Asian, 23% as Caucasian, 14% as South Asian, 5% as First Nations, 2% as Latin America, 2% as Middle Eastern, 2% as African/Caribbean/Black, 17 % as mixed, and 4 % as Other. Nearly 7 % indicated that they did not know their ethnic background.  In one school district, where students completed the surveys as part of a district initiative to evaluate the social climate of their schools, passive consent procedures were employed. Parents were informed of the study in newsletters and electronic notices and could request that their children not participate if desired.  All students present on the scheduled testing date were informed of the purpose and focus of the study, assured of the confidentiality of their responses and of their right to withdraw from the study without penalty at any time, and then provided informed assent for participation prior to completion of the survey. For this district, students from 19 classrooms in three schools (four from school A, five from school B and ten from school C) participated in the study, with an overall participation rate of 89%. Parent permission was sought for student participation for the other school district, and only students with parent 17  consent, and who also provided assent participated in the survey. Students from ten classrooms participated, with an overall participation rate of 63%. Ethical approval for this study was received from the Research Ethics Board at the University of British Columbia. A copy of the certificate of approval is provided in Appendix A. In addition, the projects and was reviewed and approved by each school district (district level approval) prior to the start of the research. 2.2 Procedure  As part of the larger research project, students were asked to complete paper-and-pencil surveys tapping (a) their experiences with bullying and victimization as bullies, victims and witnesses, (b) the overall social climate of their school, (c) their emotional awareness, and (d) their use of two different emotion regulation strategies (emotional suppression and cognitive reappraisal). Data was collected during a single group testing session held in the classroom at a time designated by their teacher. These sessions took approximately 60 minutes and were conducted by trained graduate research assistants.  2.3 Measures  For this study, two aspects of emotion competence, emotional awareness and emotion regulation were assessed using well-established, validated instruments on emotional skills in children and adolescents. A survey of victimization experiences across four types of bullying was also used. A copy of the survey is provided in Appendix B, and a description of each of these measures follows. 2.3.1 Emotional Awareness  There is a scarcity of existing measures that assess emotional awareness in childhood. Many measures in the field test related constructs of emotion recognition and emotion 18  knowledge using photos, pictures and vignettes of emotional expression, and are usually assessed through teacher/parent observation, interviews and performance based tests, such as the “Perceiving Emotion” section of the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT; Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2002), and the Assessment of Children's Emotion Skills (ACES; Mavroveli, Petrides, Sangareau & Furnham, 2009). Very few measures tap children’s self-reported understanding of their own emotional experiences. It is possible to be competent at reading other people’s emotions but not one’s own emotions, just as it is possible to present adequate usage of emotion words and descriptions in the classroom, but be confused about one’s own emotions when they arise, due to the complexity of emotion processes. The present study employed the Poor Awareness sub-scale of the Emotion Expression Scale for Children (EESC) to assess children’s emotional awareness, which is currently the only validated measure in the field for assessing children’s awareness of own emotions through self-report.   The EESC is a 16-item self-report questionnaire that assesses two aspects of emotion competence in children: lack of emotional awareness and lack of motivation to express negative emotions. Participants rate each item on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not at all true) to 5 (extremely true) in terms of how well it reflects their own experiences of these emotional difficulties.  Of interest in the current study are the eight items assessing poor emotional awareness, using descriptions of difficulties in labeling internal emotional experience, such as: “I have feelings I can’t figure out”; “I often do not know what I am feeling”; “Sometimes I just don’t have the words to describe how I feel”; “Often I do not know why I am angry”, etc. High scores on the poor awareness subscale of the EESC have been associated with emotional dysregulation, inhibition and internalizing symptoms (Penza-Clyve & Zeman, 2002). 19   For this study, the mean of the total score was used as an overall index of emotional awareness, with lower scores indicating stronger emotional awareness. Using this measure, Penza-Clyve and Zeman (2002) reported high internal consistency (Cronbach’s α= .83) in a sample of 208 students grades four to five. The alpha coefficient for the sample in the present study was also high (Cronbach’s α= .85).  2.3.2 Emotion Regulation  Emotion regulation was assessed using the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire for Children and Adolescents (ERQ-CA; Gullone & Taffe, 2012). The ERQ-CA is a downward extension of the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ, Gross & John, 2003), which is comprised of 10 items assessing the use of two different emotion regulation strategies: Cognitive Reappraisal and Expressive Suppression. Cognitive reappraisal was measured with six items, such as “When I want to feel happier, I think about something different”, and “I control my feelings about things by changing the way I think about them”. Expressive suppression was measured using four items, such as “When I am feeling happy, I am careful not to show it”, and “I control my feelings by not showing them”. With both scales, responses are elicited on a 5-point Likert scale (1- strongly disagree, 2- disagree, 3- neither agree nor disagree, 4- agree, 5- strongly agree). For greater clarity, response 3 -“neither agree nor disagree” is a revision of “half-and-half” in the original questionnaire (Gullone & Taffe, 2012).  For this study, the mean of the total score was used for each regulation strategy, with higher scores indicating greater use of that strategy. Gullone and Taffe (2012) reported high internal consistency for this measure (α = .83 for Reappraisal, α = .75 for Suppression) in a sample of 827 schoolchildren from ages 10 to18. The alpha coefficients (which were relatively 20  consistent across all grade levels) for the present sample were high for Reappraisal (α = .82), but lower for Suppression (α = .67). 2.3.3 Victimization  Students were asked to report on their experiences with victimization at school using a 5-item self-report measure developed for use with students in grades 4-7 (Trach, Hymel, Waterhouse, & Neale, 2010; Vaillancourt, McDougall, & Hymel, 2008). Following Vaillancourt et al., students were provided with a written definition of bullying that highlights key definitional characteristics (power differential, intentionality and repetition), and asked to indicate how frequently they experienced victimization in general, and also for each of four forms of victimization (physical, social, verbal, and cyber bullying, with multiple examples given of each form), within the present school year. Responses for each item were elicited on a 5-point Likert response scale (1=never, 2= once of a few times, 3=every month, 4=every week, and 5=several times a week), with higher scores reflecting higher frequency of victimization. In the present sample, Cronbach’s alpha for this composite of five items was high (α = .80).   Given the highly skewed nature of the scores obtained for this measure, however, a binary composite (victimized and non-victimized) was created using responses to all five items. In the field of bullying research, there is large variability (and little consensus) in the cut-off points for classifying students as victims and bullies (Swearer, Siebecker, Johnsen-Frerichs, & Wang, 2010), which range from “at least once in the last two/three months” (Baldry & Farrington, 2013; UNICEF, 2013) to “two or three times a week” (Solberg & Olweus, 2003). For the present study, in consideration of repetition as a defining characteristic of bullying, the cut-off was determined at the response of being victimized “every month”, or more often. Specifically, any participant who responded with 3, 4 or 5 in any of the five items was placed into the “victimized” group (N 21  = 169), and all other participants were placed in the non-victimized group (N = 438).    22  Chapter 3: Results 3.1 Preliminary Results  A minority of children in this sample reported experiencing victimization by peers in one or more forms every month or more. Specifically, 27.8% or 169 children were placed into the “victimized” group (participants who reported being victimized every month or more often, in any form of bullying) and the remaining 72.2% were placed in the non-victimized group. Compared to the UNICEF report showing that 35% of children in Canada report being victimized ‘at least once in the last couple of months’, participants in the present study reported a lower rate of victimization, although this might be expected given that the criteria for identifying students as victimized in the present study was more stringent, at ‘every month’ or more often.  In order to evaluate whether the primary variables of the present study varied as a function of sex or grade, a series of 2 (sex) by 4 (grade level) Analyses of Variance was conducted, one for each of the primary variables of the study. Relevant means and standard deviations are presented in Table 3.1 below. Table 3.1 Means and Standard Deviations across Sex and Grades   Boys Girls Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7   M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD Low Emotional Awareness 2.51 0.83 2.61 0.90 2.66 0.84 2.60 0.84 2.51 0.87 2.50 0.90 Suppression 3.03 0.82 2.85 0.74 2.92 0.77 2.86 0.86 3.05 0.75 2.91 0.76 Reappraisal 3.44 0.79 3.36 0.73 3.38 0.74 3.44 0.87 3.54 0.68 3.25 0.71 Victimization 1.71 0.69 1.59 0.64 1.69 0.70 1.72 0.68 1.59 0.61 1.61 0.67   Significant differences were found between boys and girls in the use of Suppression, F(1, 595) = 8.09, p = .01, and victimization, F(1, 600) = 4.95, p = .03. Specifically, as shown in Table 3.1, boys reported higher levels of victimization and greater use of emotional suppression than 23  girls.  There were no significant differences across grade levels for reported emotional awareness, suppression or victimization. However, significant variations across grades were observed for use of reappraisal F(3, 595) = 3.67, p = .01. Results of Tukey HSD post hoc analyses indicated significance differences in use of reappraisal between students in grade six (M = 3.54, SD = .68) and grade seven (M = 3.25, SD = .71), p = .005, with grade six students reporting greater use of reappraisal than grade seven students. Table 3.2 Means and Standard Deviations across Schools   School A School B School C School D   M SD M SD M SD M SD Low Emotional Awareness 2.50 0.80 2.57 0.89 2.75 0.81 2.43 0.88 Suppression 3.02 0.88 2.84 0.74 2.96 0.86 3.03 0.70 Reappraisal 3.51 0.74 3.35 0.76 3.34 0.82 3.44 0.73 Victimization 1.44 0.50 1.65 0.69 1.93 0.75 1.57 0.57 Valid N (listwise) 101   247   119   129     A one-way Analysis of Variance was conducted to determine whether student responses to the surveys varied systematically across schools. Results indicated significant differences across schools in Low Emotional Awareness, F(3, 600) = 3.03, p = .03, and victimization F(3, 601) = 11.86, p = .00. Specifically, results of post hoc analyses (Tukey’s HSD) show significant differences in low emotional awareness between schools C and D, p = .023, with students in school C reporting greater deficits in emotional awareness. Significant differences were also found in victimization between school C and all other schools, p = .00, with school C having the highest level of victimization (M= 1.93, SD = 0.75) and also between school A and school B, p = .039, with school B having a higher level of victimization than school A. Given these findings, sex, grade and school were included as control variables (covariates) in the primary analyses of this study. 24  3.2 Primary Analyses  To investigate the first research question on the relationship between emotional awareness and the emotion regulation strategies of suppression and reappraisal, two separate ordinary least squares linear regression models were conducted, one with use of suppression as the dependent variable, and another with reappraisal. Controlling for sex, grade and school effects, low emotional awareness significantly predicted the use of suppression, b= .34, t(602) = 9.753, p <.001. That is, students who demonstrated lower emotional awareness were more likely to report greater use of emotional suppression as an emotion regulation strategy. Low emotional awareness was not a significant predictor for use of reappraisal.  To address the latter research questions regarding the main and indirect effects of emotional awareness and emotion regulation on peer victimization, a binary logistic regression was performed. As a binary dependent variable, participants who reported being victimized every month or more often in any form of bullying were put into a victim group (coded as 1) and the rest of the sample in the non-victim group (coded as 0). School, grade and sex were entered in the first step of the analysis, as control variables. For sex, females represented the baseline condition (coded as 0) against which boys were compared (coded as 1). Low emotional awareness was entered in the second step, to address the second research question on the effect of low emotional awareness on being victimized. The emotion regulation strategies of suppression, reappraisal, and the interactions of suppression as well as reappraisal and low emotional awareness were entered on the third step, to investigate the final question of this study. On finding that these interactions were not significant, a further step was conducted, removing the interaction terms to examine the main effects of suppression and reappraisal on victimization. Results of the analysis are reported in Table 3.3 below. 25  Table 3.3 Results of Binary Logistic Regression    B SE B Wald df OR   Step 1:                        School     22.21 3    School (1) 0.66 0.35 3.60 1 1.94  School (2) 0.82* 0.32 6.60 1 2.27  School (3) 1.52** 0.34 19.87 1 4.55  Grade -0.21* 0.09 5.88 1 0.81  Gender (1) 0.56** 0.19 8.46 1 1.74  Step 2:                        School     17.51 3    School (1) 0.75* 0.37 4.14 1 2.13  School (2) 0.86* 0.33 6.61 1 2.36  School (3) 1.45** 0.36 16.67 1 4.27  Grade -0.16 0.09 3.02 1 0.85  Gender (1) 0.79** 0.21 14.61 1 2.20  Low EA 0.95** 0.13 55.67 1 2.58  Step 3:         School     16.40  3    School (1) 0.80* 0.38 4.53 1 2.22  School (2) 0.77* 0.34 5.31 1 2.17  School (3) 1.41** 0.36 15.58 1 4.08  Grade -0.15 0.09 2.78 1 0.86  Gender (1) 0.84** 0.21 16.13 1 2.32  Low EA 1.08** 0.14 57.31 1 2.95  Suppression -0.33* 0.15 4.71 1 0.72  Reappraisal -0.14 0.14 1.04 1 0.87  Step 4:           School     16.45 3        School (1) 0.80* 0.38 4.53 1 2.22      School (2) 0.78* 0.34 5.33 1 2.17      School (3) 1.41** 0.36 15.65 1 4.10      Grade -0.15 0.09 2.68 1 0.86      Gender (1) 0.84* 0.21 16.11 1 2.32      Low EA 1.29* 0.58 4.85 1 3.62      Suppression -0.18 0.48 0.14 1 0.83      Reappraisal -0.10 0.47 0.05 1 0.90      LEA*Suppression -0.05 0.16 0.10 1 0.95      LEA*Reappraisal -0.01 0.16 0.01 1 0.99      NB: LEA= Low Emotional Awareness, OR= Odds Ratio. ** p<.01 (2-tailed), * p<.05 level (2-tailed).  26   School, sex and grade variables (Step 1) accounted for only 9% (Nagelkerke R2) of the variance in victimization scores. When low emotional awareness was entered in Step 2, the Nagelkerke R2 value increased to 22%. The Wald criterion demonstrated that low emotional awareness (p<.001) made a significant contribution to predicting victimization. After controlling for school, age and sex, the odds of being victimized increased by a factor of almost three (2.58) with every unit increase in low emotional awareness.  To examine the main effects of the emotion regulation strategies on victimization, the emotion regulation strategies of suppression and reappraisal were simultaneously entered in Step 3. This model explained 24.0% (Nagelkerke R2) of the variance in victimization, and correctly classified 76.5% of cases. The addition of these variables accounted for a significant amount of variance in victimization scores, χ2(8) = 108.45, p< .001. Results show that the use of suppression (p=.03) was significant in predicting less victimization. With every unit increase in the use of suppression strategies, the odds of being victimized decreased by a factor of about 0.72. The use of reappraisal was not a significant predictor.  In a final step, two-way interactions between low emotional awareness, and the emotion regulation strategies of suppression and reappraisal were entered. The Nagelkerke R2 value remained at .24, indicating that the interactions did not have any effect on the likelihood of participants reporting being victimized. Indeed, none of the two-way interactions between low emotional awareness and the emotion regulation strategies were significant (p>.05).        27  Chapter 4   Discussion  The first goal of this study was to investigate the associations between emotional awareness and the use of particular emotional regulation strategies. As hypothesized, low emotional awareness significantly predicted the use of suppression. However, no significant relationship was observed between the use of reappraisal and emotional awareness. A second goal was to examine the relationship between low emotional awareness and victimization. Correlational analysis has shown these two constructs to be positively related, and regression results confirmed that the probability of being victimized increases with deficits in emotional awareness. Finally, the relationship between low emotional awareness and victimization was not observed to be significantly affected by the use of either emotional regulation strategy, refuting the hypothesis for the third goal of this study.  The relationship between low emotional awareness and victimization was expected, given the evidence of links between emotional awareness and emotion regulation, and emotion regulation and victimization. As reviewed earlier, deficits in emotional awareness leads to challenges in emotion regulation- without a good understanding of emotions, and awareness of nuances within an emotional experience, it is difficult to effectively regulate the experience and display of emotion. Studies have shown that victim’s failure to regulate emotional displays in response to harassment invites further aggression from bullies (e.g., Champion & Clay, 2007; Poulin & Boivin, 2000; Shields & Cichetti, 2001; Wilton, Craig, & Pepler, 2000). However, victims’ emotional responses to harassment may account for only part of this relationship between low emotional awareness and victimization. It is possible that other manifestations of deficits in emotional awareness in the individual may be in themselves a factor for the increased risk of victimization. For example, children with low emotional awareness are likely to often be 28  overwhelmed by their emotions (Schwartz & Proctor, 2000), and thus more prone to emotional reactivity to both internal and external events, which may manifest as shyness, sullenness, hyperactivity, etc. And these children may also have difficulties being aware of, and having an understanding of other’s emotions, which could manifest in awkward, inappropriate social interactions. It is possible that such behavior is what places them at risk of becoming targets of bullying, in addition to the way they respond to being harassed. This study, being correlational, does not lend to a causal interpretation- further research is needed to evaluate and understand how low emotional awareness contributes to being victimized.  Interestingly, the use of suppression was shown to decrease the probability of victimization, while the use of reappraisal had no significant effect. Towards the goal of not getting victimized, suppressing emotions seems to be an adaptive emotion regulation strategy for this sample of victimized children. This is in line with previous research, showing that a lack of emotional display, or a display of nonchalance, makes a victim less attractive or interesting to the aggressor (Salmivalli, Karhunen, & Lagerspetz, 1996). One explanation for why suppression, and not reappraisal had a significant effect on victimization could be that developmentally, suppression is a more effective strategy for curbing displays of emotion for this age group. Being behavioral, suppression as an emotion regulation strategy is faster and easier to access than reappraisal. This could also explain why, as suggested by the results of this study, children with greater deficits in emotional awareness report a higher use of suppression. While there was no significant relationship between grade and the emotion regulation strategies used in this sample, there is some literature that suggest emotion regulation strategies are positively related to age (e.g., Gross & John, 2003), with older children having greater capacity to engage in more sophisticated ways of regulating emotions, such as reappraisal (Eisenberg & Spinrad, 2004). 29  Additionally, it is possible that children who report that they use reappraisal may not be as effective at regulating their emotional display (i.e., that being able to think of a situation differently did not have the intended effect behaviorally).   It is important to note that while adaptive in some situations, using suppression as a default emotion regulation strategy has been linked to detrimental effects on mental, social and even physical health in the long run, in adults (Gross & John, 2003). Frequently suppressing emotions may be particularly harmful for children who are already at risk, given evidence that suppression is associated with depressive symptoms in adolescents with low emotional awareness (Eastabrook, Flynn & Hollenstein, 2014). However, such research on the longer term outcomes associated with using either strategy (reviewed earlier in this paper) are based on studies with participants in late adolescence or older. There is at present a scarcity of research on the impact on interpersonal functioning and longer term well-being from the use of specific emotion regulation strategies in children. It is probable that the use of similar emotion regulation strategies functions differently in children and adults. Given the differences in depth and scope between how children and adults make meaning of situations they face, and differences in the scale of problems faced by children and adults, it may be possible that some outcomes from using suppression found in adults may not apply to children. Future research is necessary to further examine the risks, as well as benefits, of children habitually using suppression to regulate their emotions.  It is surprising that no significant negative relationship was observed between cognitive reappraisal and low emotional awareness in this population. One explanation could be that the measure used to assess emotional awareness in this study was a measure of deficits in emotional awareness. It is probable that cognitive reappraisal is a skill that requires strengths in emotional 30  awareness that this measure of deficits did not tap. It would be valuable for future research to explore, within a developmental framework, aspects of emotional awareness that contribute to the development of reappraisal as an effective emotion regulation strategy. As one example, it will be valuable to map the ability for cognitive reappraisal onto the levels of emotional awareness as defined in Lane and Schwartz’s (1987) cognitive-developmental theory of emotional awareness, which conceptualizes emotional awareness as a cognitive skill that undergoes developmental stages.   Taking the sample as a whole, no indirect effects for emotional awareness and emotion regulation strategies were observed. In other studies it was shown that the use of reappraisal buffered the effects of low emotional awareness on emotion-information processing in adults (Szczygieł, Buczny, & Bazińska, 2012), and that reappraisal accounted for the effects of emotional awareness on depressive symptoms in adolescent females (Eastabrook, Flynn, & Hollenstein, 2014). It was hypothesized that the habitual use of reappraisal or suppression would moderate the effect of low emotional awareness on victimization, but no significant indirect effects were found in the present sample. Given that the present study considered a younger sample, it is possible that the use of these two particular strategies did not interact with low emotional awareness to change victimization outcomes in any significant way for this age group.   However, this study has shown that low emotional awareness significantly predicts the use of suppression, and the use of suppression significantly decreases the odds of being victimized. Therefore, it suggests that, particularly for children with low emotional awareness, the use of suppression may exert a mediating influence on the risk of being victimized. Further research is needed that examines, using a mediational model, how the use of different emotion 31  regulation strategies mediate the relationship between emotional awareness levels and being victimized in childhood.  One limitation of the present study lies in the binary variable created to represent victimization. Due to the highly skewed nature of the victimization scores, this variable was created to allow for a binary logistic regression analysis. While such analysis is in line with some of the bullying literature (e.g., Swearer et al., 2010), collapsing five responses (never, once or a few times, every month, every week, and several times a week) into two groups (victims and non-victims) could be oversimplifying the data, and possibly flattening out variance that could provide greater insights into the mechanisms at work. Future research that examines these variables between the occasionally victimized children, frequently victimized children and children who report never being victimized is needed. It would also be valuable to examine whether these relationships function similarly across different types of victimization.   There are other limitations to the present study that need to be acknowledged. First, while it was hypothesized that low emotional awareness would predict victimization, the present correlational study does not allow for a causal interpretation. Moreover, the sample for this study consisted of students from four schools in British Columbia. Future research that includes more schools from a number of different locations, and addresses school-level influences will be necessary to investigate the generalizability of these findings. Lastly, this study was based entirely on self-report measures. Future studies employing more ecologically valid measures of emotional awareness, emotion regulation strategies and victimization will be valuable. 3.1 Implications  At present, research on emotional processes in school bullying and victimization has focused on emotion regulation (and dysregulation) and emotional lability (e.g., Balding et al., 32  2002; Champion & Clay, 2007; Hodges & Perry, 1999; Kochenderfer-Ladd, 2004; Poulin & Boivin, 2000; Shields & Cichetti, 2001). This study furthers the understanding of the emotional piece of the bullying puzzle by showing that low emotional awareness, a trait previously unexplored in the field, plays a significant part in a child’s risk of being victimized at school.   Results of this study suggest further that, despite theory and research indicating that suppression and other response-focused emotion regulation strategies are less adaptive in general, using suppression as an emotion regulation strategy is adaptive for decreasing the risk of victimization, at least for this age group. This is particularly salient for children with low emotional awareness, to whom, as results suggest, the use of basic emotion regulation strategies such as suppression is more accessible. Given this information, interventions that promote suppression as a primary strategy in the face of peer harassment could be effective in helping younger victimized children get out of a cycle of repeated victimization. Caution is needed, however, in consideration that these strategies are linked to unhealthy effects in the long run for older populations. Moreover, results of the present study show that having a high level of emotional awareness reduces children’s odds of being victimized, suggesting that a component that helps children develop higher levels of emotional awareness would be a valuable addition to interventions supporting children who are habitually victimized.    A child at the receiving end of peer provocation or harassment faces a significant emotional challenge. Peer victimization is an unwanted event that can create uncomfortable, intense, and often overwhelming emotions in children. To avoid further victimization, a child needs to overcome the drive of the emotion to fight or flee, gain some cognitive understanding of the emotional experience in order to regulate the experience and expression of emotion. It is a 33  formidable challenge, and one with devastating consequences, especially when the child has to face them again and again. 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Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 31, 393–398. doi:10.1207/153744202760082658.  43  Appendix Appendix A  : Questionnaire Survey of School Experiences    Instructions  All responses on this survey are confidential (private)— do not put your name on it.   Make sure to read every question. This is not a test and there are no right or wrong answers, but it is important to answer honestly. If you are not comfortable answering a question or you don’t know what it means, you can ask for help or leave it blank.   Please do not look at other students’ answers.  If there is anything you need help with or you have any questions, please raise your hand and we will come over to help you.   It is important to colour the circles completely, like this: ! Please DO NOT use !, Please DO NOT use X.  44  Tell us about yourself…  1. What is your ID number? (This number is written on the top of your consent form.) _____________________________ 2. What is the name of your school? _________________________________   3. What grade are you in? (Choose one)  " 4  " 6         " 5  " 7  4.   Are you a boy or a girl? (Choose one)  " Boy " Girl  5.  How long have you lived in Canada?  (Choose one) " less than 2 years         " 2-4 years         " more than 4 years  6. Is English the main language spoken in your home?  " Yes  " No 7. How old are you (in years)?     " 8  " 10  " 12   " 9  " 11  " 13 or older    8. Although we all live in Canada, people sometimes identify themselves by the racial, ethnic, or cultural group to which their parents, grandparents, or ancestors belong. How do you identify your racial or ethnic background? (Please choose one.)  YES A) Aboriginal/ Native People (North American Indian, Metis, Inuit, etc.) " B) African / Caribbean (Black) " C) Asian (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, etc) " D) Caucasian (White, European) " E) Latin American (Mexican, South American) " F) Middle Eastern (Arabic, Iranian, Kuwaiti, Persian, Israeli, etc) " G) South Asian (Indian, Indonesian, Pakistani, Filipino, etc) " H) Mixed (more than one of the above) " I) Other (tell us) : _____________________________ " J) I don’t know "      45  How do you feel about your school?    INSTRUCTIONS: Read each statement and choose the best answer for YOU. For the questions below, please select one of the following answers:  NO:  means the sentence is “not at all true” or “almost never true” about you.  no:  means that the sentence is “hardly ever” true about you yes:  means that the sentence is “often” true about you YES:  means that the sentence is “almost always true” or “always true” about you.   NO no yes YES 9. Most mornings I look forward to going to school. 1 2 3 4 10. I feel safe at my school. 1 2 3 4 11. My school is a nice place to be. 1 2 3 4 12. I like to take part in class discussions and activities. 1 2 3 4 13. I feel sure about how to do my work at school. 1 2 3 4 14. Doing well at school is important to me. 1 2 3 4 15. Kids at my school have a good chance to grow up and be successful. 1 2 3 4 16. I like my classes this year. 1 2 3 4  46  Bullying at your school….  The next few questions ask about bullying at your school. There are lots of different ways to bully someone. A bully might tease or make fun of other students, spread rumours about them, punch or hit them, or use the internet or texting to do this. Bullying is not an accident – a bully wants to hurt the other person, and does so repeatedly and unfairly (bullies have some advantage over the person they hurt). Sometimes a group of students will bully another student.  Think about this school year when you answer the following questions about bullying.   How often have you… Never Once or a few times Every month Every week Several times a week 17. been bullied? 1 2 3 4 5 18. taken part in bullying others? 1 2 3 4 5 19. seen other students being bullied? 1 2 3 4 5   How often have you been… Never Once or a few times Every month Every week Several times a week 20. physically bullied, when someone: - hit, kicked, punched, pushed you. - physically hurt you. - damaged or stole your property. 1 2 3 4 5 21. verbally bullied, when someone: - said mean things to you. - teased you or called you names. - threatened you or tried to hurt your feelings. 1 2 3 4 5 22. socially bullied, when someone:  - said bad things behind your back. - gossiped or spread rumours about you. - got other students not to like you. - ignored you or refused to play with you. 1 2 3 4 5 23. cyber-bullied, when someone:  - used the computer, websites, emails, text messages or pictures online to threaten you, hurt you, make you look bad, or spread rumours about you. 1 2 3 4 5   47   How often have you seen other students being… Never Once or a few times Every month Every week Several times a week 24. physically bullied? 1 2 3 4 5 25. verbally bullied? 1 2 3 4 5 26. socially bullied? 1 2 3 4 5 27. cyber bullied? 1 2 3 4 5   How often have you taken part in… Never Once or a few times Every month Every week Several times a week 28. physically bullying others? 1 2 3 4 5 29. verbally bullying others? 1 2 3 4 5 30. socially bullying others? 1 2 3 4 5 31. cyber bullying others? 1 2 3 4 5     48  What’s it l ike at your school?   For the next set of statements, choose the answer that you think is best. NO:  means the sentence is “not at all true” or “almost never true” about you.  no:  means that the sentence is “hardly ever” true about you yes:  means that the sentence is “often” true about you YES:  means that the sentence is “almost always true” or “always true” about you.   What’s it like at your school? NO no yes YES 32. Teachers go out of their way to help students.  1 2 3 4 33. If students want to talk about something teachers will find time to do it.  1 2 3 4 34. Teachers help students to organize their work.  1 2 3 4 35. Students really enjoy their classes.  1 2 3 4 36. Teachers help students catch up when they return from an absence.  1 2 3 4 37. Teachers take a personal interest in students (i.e., care about you personally).  1 2 3 4 38. If some students are misbehaving in class the teacher will do something about it.  1 2 3 4 39. When teachers make a rule, they mean it.  1 2 3 4 40. Students are given clear instructions about how to do their work in classes.  1 2 3 4 41. Students understand what will happen to them if they break a rule.  1 2 3 4 42. Teachers make a point of sticking to the rules in classes.  1 2 3 4 43. Students work hard for good grades in classes.  1 2 3 4 44. Students try hard to get the best grades they can.  1 2 3 4 45. Grades are very important to students.  1 2 3 4 46. Students work hard to complete their assignments.  1 2 3 4 47. Students put a lot of energy into what they do here.  1 2 3 4 48. Students in this school have trouble getting along with each 1 2 3 4 49  other.  49. Students in this school are mean to each other.  1 2 3 4 50. In classes, students find it hard to get along with each other.  1 2 3 4 51. There are students in this school who pick on other students.  1 2 3 4 52. Students in this school feel students are too mean to them.  1 2 3 4 53. Students get to know each other well in classes.  1 2 3 4 54. Students in this school are very interested in getting to know other students.  1 2 3 4 55. Students enjoy doing things with each other in school activities.  1 2 3 4 56. Students in this school get to know each other really well.  1 2 3 4 57. Students enjoy working together on projects in classes.  1 2 3 4 58. The rules in this school are too strict.  1 2 3 4 59. It is easy for a student to get kicked out of class in this school.  1 2 3 4 60. Students get in trouble for breaking small rules.  1 2 3 4 61. Teachers are very strict here.  1 2 3 4 62. Students get in trouble for talking.  1 2 3 4 63. In our school, students are given the chance to help make decisions.  1 2 3 4 64. Students in this school have a say in how things work.  1 2 3 4 65. Students get to help decide some of the rules in this school.  1 2 3 4 66. Teachers ask students what they want to learn about.  1 2 3 4 67. Students help decide how class time is spent.  1 2 3 4 68. New and different ways of teaching are tried in classes.  1 2 3 4 69. New ideas are tried out here.  1 2 3 4 70. Teachers like students to try unusual projects.  1 2 3 4 71. In classes, we are given assignments to help us find out about things outside of school.  1 2 3 4 72. Your teachers show that they think it is important for students of different races and cultures at your school to get along with each other.  1 2 3 4 50  73. Students of many different races and cultures are chosen to participate in important school activities.  1 2 3 4 74. You get to do something which helps you learn about students of different races and cultures at your school.  1 2 3 4 75. You work with students of different races and cultures in a school activity.  1 2 3 4 76. Has anyone at school threatened to beat you up or hurt you if you didn’t give them your money or something else that belonged to you?  1 2 3 4 77. Has anyone actually beaten you up or really hurt you when you were at school?  1 2 3 4 78. Have you ever brought something to school to protect yourself?  1 2 3 4 79. Have you ever been afraid that someone will hurt or bother you at school?  1 2 3 4 80. Has anything worth more than a dollar been stolen from your desk or locker at school when you weren’t around?  1 2 3 4 81. Has anyone offered or tried to sell you drugs at school?  1 2 3 4     51  How do you feel?    For the next set of statements, choose the answer that is most true for YOU.  NO:   means the sentence is “not at all true” or “almost never true” about you.  no:   means that the sentence is “hardly ever true” about you sometimes:  means that the sentence is “sometimes true” about you yes:  means that the sentence is “often true” about you YES:  means that the sentence is “almost always true” or “always true” about you.   NO no Some times yes YES 82. When something bad happens, I feel like exploding. 1  2 3 4  5 83. I have feelings that I can’t figure out. 1  2 3 4  5 84. When I feel upset, I do not know how to talk about it. 1  2 3 4  5 85. I often do not know how I am feeling. 1  2 3 4  5 86. People tell me I should talk about my feelings more often. 1  2 3 4  5 87. Sometimes I just don’t have words to describe how I feel. 1  2 3 4  5 88. I know I should show my feelings, but it is too hard. 1  2 3 4  5 89. I often do not know why I am angry. 1  2 3 4  5     52  How do you feel?    The next set of questions asks about how you manage your feelings. Tell us how much you agree or disagree with each of the following sentences. Choose the answer that is best for YOU.   REALLY DISAGREE:       means that you “really disagree” with the sentence; it’s not true at all disagree:      means that you “disagree” with the sentence; it’s hardly ever true neither:       means that you neither agree or disagree with the sentence agree:       means that you “agree” with the sentence; it’s true a lot of the time REALLY AGREE:      means that you “really agree” with the sentence; it’s always true   REALLY DISAGREE disagree neither agree nor disagree agree REALLY AGREE 90. When I want to feel happier, I think about something different. 1  2 3 4  5 91. I keep my feelings to myself.  1  2 3 4  5 92. When I want to feel less bad (e.g., sad, angry or worried), I think about something different. 1  2 3 4  5 93. When I am feeling happy, I am careful not to show it.  1  2 3 4  5 94. When I’m worried about something, I make myself think about it in a way that helps me feel better.  1  2 3 4  5 95. I control my feelings by not showing them.  1  2 3 4  5 96. When I want to feel happier about something, I change the way I’m thinking about it.  1  2 3 4  5 97. I control my feelings about things by changing the way I think about them. 1  2 3 4  5 98. When I am feeling bad (e.g., sad, angry or worried), I’m careful not to show it.  1  2 3 4  5 99. When I want to feel less bad (e.g., sad, angry or worried) about something, I change the way I’m thinking about it.  1  2 3 4  5    53  Think about your school this year and decide how much you agree or disagree with each sentence in the boxes below. Choose the answer that is most true for YOU.  REALLY DISAGREE: means that you “really disagree” with the sentence; it’s not true at all disagree: means that you “disagree” with the sentence; it’s hardly ever true agree: means that you “agree” with the sentence; it’s true a lot of the time REALLY AGREE:  means that you “really agree” with the sentence; it’s always true   REALLY DISAGREE disagree agree REALLY AGREE 100. It is important for kids to help other student who are being bullied or harassed. 1  2 3 4  101. People at my school are working hard to make it a good place for everyone. 1  2 3 4     Thank You! 54  If you are having problems with other students at school, please know that you do not have to face it alone; you can get help.  You can talk to your parents or others family members; they may have some ideas that you have not yet thought about. You can talk to any adult that you trust at the school – a counsellor, a teacher or coach, a custodian, a youth worker, a bus driver, etc.  We want to help…….contact us.   Do you want help with problems you are having with other students?  NO, everything is ok             YES, I would like help – write your name on the line below    Print your name (FIRST NAME, LAST NAME)   If you would like help from someone outside of the school you could call one of the following help lines.   Help Line for Children (24 Hours)           604-310-1234 Kids Help Phone            1-800-668-6868  (*1-800 numbers can be called FREE from payphones, no money needed).    THANK YOU FOR COMPLETING THIS SURVEY!  Your feedback will help us to make this school safe for all students.       

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