Social competition in school: Relationships with bullying, Machiavellianism and personality

Jon Sutton, Edmund Keogh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (SciVal)


Background. Bullying is investigated as part of the individual's general framework of attitudes towards interpersonal relationships, social competition and motivation in school. Aims. It was hypothesised that bullying behaviour and pro-bullying attitudes would be associated with socially competitive attitudes in the classroom, Machiavellianism, and the personality constructs of Psychoticism and Extraversion. Samples. 198 9-to 12-year-old children from two Glasgow primary schools. Methods. Children completed several measures: a newly developed questionnaire assessing motivations behind social competition and effort in class, the Kiddie-Mach scale, the Pro-Victim scale, items from the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire, and the Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. Results. A 'Desire for social success' factor (incorporating a deliberate lack of effort) was negatively correlated with support for victims of bullying, even after partialling out Machiavellianism, Psychoticism, and social desirability. Pro-victim attitudes were in turn negatively correlated with Machiavellianism and Psychoticism, and positively correlated with Lie score. Finally, children categorised as bullies scored significantly higher than controls on Machiavellianism, and significantly lower in terms of pro-victim attitudes. Conclusions. Results are discussed in terms of further study and implications for classroom practice and anti-bullying policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-456
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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