Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Rebecca Shearer

Second Committee Member

Daniel Messinger

Third Committee Member

Daryl Greenfield

Fourth Committee Member

Marygrace Yale Kaiser

Fifth Committee Member

Jonathan West


The current study investigated the relationship between peer interactions and school readiness children enrolled in Head Start. The constructs of displayed and received physical aggression, relational aggression, and prosocial behavior within children's peer interactions were examined through direct observation. School readiness was measured through direct assessment. It was hypothesized that aggression within peer interactions would predict lower school readiness, while prosocial behaviors within peer interactions would predict better school readiness. Sex was also hypothesized to moderate the relationship between relational aggression, relational victimization, physical aggression, physical victimization and school readiness. It was hypothesized that relational aggression and victimization would more severely impact the school readiness of girls and physical aggression and victimization would more severely impact the school readiness of boys. Structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses revealed that physical aggression and victimization as well as displayed and received prosocial behavior did not significantly predict school readiness. Relational aggression predicted better school readiness. Also, sex moderated the relationship between relational victimization and school readiness such that relational victimization predicted better school readiness for girls, but did not predict school readiness for young boys. Knowledge gained from this study can inform preschool classroom practices on the role that peer aggression and prosocial behavior play in individual differences in children's school readiness.


Peer Interactions; Aggression; Head Start; School Readiness; Victimization