The Meaningful Roles Intervention: An Evolutionary Approach to Reducing Bullying and Increasing Prosocial Behavior

Bruce J. Ellis, Anthony A. Volk, Jose Michael Gonzalez, Dennis D. Embry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bullying is a problem that affects adolescents worldwide. Efforts to prevent bullying have been moderately successful at best, or iatrogenic at worst. We offer an explanation for this limited success by employing an evolutionary-psychological perspective to analyze antibullying interventions. We argue that bullying is a goal-directed behavior that is sensitive to benefits as well as costs, and that interventions must address these benefits. This perspective led us to develop a novel antibullying intervention, Meaningful Roles, which offers bullies prosocial alternatives—meaningful roles and responsibilities implemented through a school jobs program and reinforced through peer-to-peer praise notes—that effectively meet the same status goals as bullying behavior. We describe this new intervention and how its theoretical evolutionary roots may be applicable to other intervention programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)622-637
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Volume26
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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