Ready to Rumble? Popularity, Status Ambiguity, and Interpersonal Violence Among School-Based Children

Chan S. Suh, Yisook Lim, Harris Hyun soo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous literature has recognized the importance of social relationship in understanding people’s engagement in aggressive behavior. Yet, largely due to data limitations, only few studies have empirically explored how social status precisely influences interpersonal violence. In this research, we investigate the determinants of peer-to-peer violence by focusing on individual’s positions in the status hierarchy within adolescent peer networks. More specifically, our study examines and demonstrates the extent to which the likelihood of interpersonal violence rises, first, as a function of one’s status (popularity) and, second, due to ambiguity between status positions of the parties involved in a physical altercation. Using a unique dataset collected on school-based children in Laos (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) in 2016 (N = 1,332), we employ exponential random graph models to show the influence of status on the odds of involvement in on-campus violence. Results indicate that higher status, that is, more popular, students are more likely to be involved in a physical fight compared to their lower status counterparts. Moreover, we find a significant degree of similarity in status among students who engage in a fight. In other words, status ambiguity surrounding dyads in the peer network increases the likelihood of bringing them into a conflict situation. Our findings provide implications for understanding how social status shapes the dynamics of negative networks. By analyzing sociocentric network data, the present study extends and moves beyond prior findings mainly based on individual-level (non-dyadic) data.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • negative networks
  • peer relations
  • popularity
  • social status
  • status ambiguity


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