Benefits of Bullying? A Test of the Evolutionary Hypothesis in Three Cohorts

Tina Kretschmer*, Chaïm la Roi, Rozemarijn van der Ploeg, René Veenstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Recent work on bullying perpetration includes the hypothesis that bullying carries an evolutionary advantage for perpetrators in terms of health and reproductive success. We tested this hypothesis in the National Child Development Study (n = 4998 male, n = 4831 female), British Cohort Study 1970 (n = 4261 male, n = 4432 female), and TRacking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (n = 486 male, n = 521 female), where bullying was assessed in adolescence (NCDS, BCS70: age 16, TRAILS: age 14) and outcomes in adulthood. Partial support for the evolutionary hypothesis was found as bullies had more children in NCDS and engaged in sexual intercourse earlier in TRAILS. In contrast, bullies reported worse health in NCDS and BCS70.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1178-1193
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number3
Early online date27-Aug-2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept-2022


  • bullying perpetration
  • evolutionary hypothesis
  • longitudinal cohort study


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