Adolescents with autism are more often victims of bullying than peers without autism. Although prior work indicates that emotions play an important role, bidirectional relationships are yet unknown. This study examines the longitudinal associations of anger, fear, guilt and shame with being victimized and bullying others in adolescent boys with and without autism. On three occasions (9 months in between) 169 boys (43% with autism, 11.6 years at T1) completed self-reports. Findings show that more anger and less guilt predicted bullying behaviour, and vice versa, in both groups. In addition, more anger and fear predicted victimization. Fear was a stronger predictor in boys without autism. In turn, victimization predicted more anger, fear and shame. Especially, boys with autism reported more anger after being bullied, suggesting a tenacious vicious circle: these youngsters are likely to be angered when being bullied, which, in turn, makes them a target for bullies. Our findings provide new theoretical insights in the role emotions play in the emergence and maintenance of victimization/bullying others in boys with and without autism.
- autism spectrum disorders
- social development