Research sheds valuable light into the minds of young bullies
By contrast, the 'henchmen' with whom bullies usually surround themselves, tend to be of particularly low emotional intelligence.
A recent survey conducted by The British Psychological Society has revealed that the typical playground bully is not the socially inadequate outsider, as previously assumed, but a clever and cunning manipulator with above average grasp of what makes other children tick - and one who can and does use this ability ruthlessly to gain control over victims.
Some 200 children, aged seven to nine, took part in the research which took the form of gauging the youngsters' reactions to fictional characters in stories. It looked at not only at the likely motives and machinations of the perpetrators, but also at the roles and reactions of victims, onlookers and allies on both sides. The findings have just been presented at the British Psychological Society's annual conference where Jon Sutton, leader of the research team, said that young bullies are so tuned in to what buttons to press in the minds of their victims, that they are almost telepathic in being able to sense the apprehensions and fears on which to play. He went on to say that this particular psychological type frequently goes on to become a workplace bully in later life.
According to Mr Sutton, such children are destined to continue because 'It's easy, it works and it feels good.' Interestingly, the same conference presented results from another study, illustrating the rise in so-called 'guardian angels' – groups of children who try to come to the defence of victims.