teased often as a child, and even teasing others, can have lifelong negative consequences,
according to a University of Kentucky study to be published in the October issue of Personality
and Social Psychology Bulletin.
The study led by UK doctoral student John
Georgesen examined the relation between personality and teasing experiences among college
students, suggesting that individuals with certain personality characteristics are at risk
for being teased in childhood and for carrying those negative aspects into adulthood.
Results indicated the individuals who are emotionally over-reactive were more likely to
be teased. These individuals also expressed more anger about being teased and were less
likely to forgive their teasers. They were more likely to feel that angry, hostile
responses are the best way to respond to teasing.
The relations between personality and teasing extended to the teaser as well as the
victim. Individuals who were high in extraversion were more likely to tease others and
feel less remorse for the teasing they did. In contrast, individuals high in agreeableness
or conscientiousness were less likely to tease others and expressed more remorse for those
times they did tease.
Teasing often has been ignored as a harmless part of childhood. However, with the
recent spate of school shootings in which teasing has been implicated as a major cause,
that attitude is now being questioned. The UK study has important implications for
understanding the negative effects of teasing in childhood.
For example, the study suggests that emotionally over-reactive children not only are
more likely to be teased, but they also are less able to deal with it effectively
long-term. Their anger at being teased festers even into their adult lives.
UK researchers conducted the study by collecting personality information and teasing
histories from more than 200 undergraduates. These participants also wrote stories about
memorable childhood experiences of being teased and teasing others, and they responded to
simulated teasing incidents on videotape. Personality affected responses to current
instances of teasing as well as the past incidents of teasing described in their stories.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin is published at the University
of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.