Background: Preliminary work suggests anxiety moderates the relationship between irritability and bullying. As anxiety increases, the link between irritability and perpetration decreases. We hypothesize that any moderation effect of anxiety is driven by social anxiety symptoms. We sought to explicate the moderating effect of anxiety, while clarifying relations to other aggressive behaviors. Methods: A sample of adolescents (n = 169, mean = 12.42 years of age) were assessed using clinician rated assessments of anxiety, parent reports of irritability and bullying behaviors (perpetration, generalized aggression, and victimization). Correlations assessed zero-order relations between variables, and regression-based moderation analyses were used to test interactions. Johnson Neyman methods were used to represent significant interactions. Results: Irritability was significantly related to bullying (r = .403, p 001). Social, but not generalized, anxiety symptoms significantly moderated the effect of irritability on bully perpetration (t(160)=-2.94, b=-.01, p=.0038, R2=.0229, F(1, 160)=8.635). As social anxiety symptoms increase, the link between irritability and perpetration decreases. Conclusions: Understanding how psychopathology interacts with social behaviors is of great importance. Higher social anxiety is linked to reduced relations between irritability and bullying; however, the link between irritability and other aggression remains positive. Comprehensively assessing how treatment of psychopathology impacts social behaviors may improve future intervention.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Bully perpetration
  • irritability
  • social anxiety


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