Motivations for social aggression against friends and non-friends among adults and adolescents (desire for acceptance, amusement, jealousy, revenge, and social image) were investigated in two studies. In both, normative beliefs about social aggression and gender were explored as moderators. In Study 1 (n = 254), a measure of motivations for social aggression in two contexts (friend and non-friend) was developed based on existing qualitative and quantitative research on motivations for social aggression and its psychometric properties were evaluated. A 17 item, 5-factor measure of
motivations for the use of socially aggressive strategies across contexts was established. All motives were found to be related to the use of social aggression, however, normative beliefs about social aggression were found to moderate the associations between desire for acceptance, amusement and jealousy and social aggression against both a friend and non-friend, as well as revenge and social aggression against a non-friend. Revenge in the friend context and social image in both contexts were positive predictors of social aggression but were not moderated by normative beliefs. Gender was
found to moderate only one of these relationships: the association between amusement and social aggression such that this relationship was stronger for women. In Study 2 (n = 151), the measure of motivations validated in the first study was used to examine the relationship between motivations and the use of socially aggressive strategies in an adolescent sample. Normative beliefs were a significant moderator for all motivations, with the exception of the desire for acceptance when the aggression was directed at a non-friend. Results of this study are discussed in light of the theoretical
model originally designed to understand girls' socially aggressive behaviour (Owens, Shute, & Slee, 2000b). A general discussion highlights the noteworthy similarities and differences between the two studies.