Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Ismael Diaz


In this research we reviewed the current definition of Spite in the psychology field and the current and historical definitions of Spite in other related fields. Given the narrow contemporary definition of spite used by psychological researchers, the first aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive and refined conceptualization of spite that differentiates it from similar aggressive behaviors, along with delineating conditions in which spite may arise. The second aim of this study was to create a measure of trait spitefulness and a measure of engagement in spiteful behaviors. A total of 156 respondents participated in this study, which entailed answering questions about how they would preferably act to proposed scenarios and other questions meant to assess aggression and personality traits. These respondents were all university students, comprised mainly of women between the ages of 19-29, and worked primarily in sales, food service, and education related careers. A total of three subject matter experts who were all university faculty and had at minimum a Master’s degree level education were also contacted to provide consultative advice on how to improve and refine the created measures. Results from the trait spitefulness measure development demonstrated that the portion of the measure meant to assess realistic spitefulness had low reliability, whilst the portion of the measure meant to assess idealistic spite had unacceptable reliability. Results from the engagement in spitefulness measure development demonstrated that the measure was generally reliable but could be refined and shortened. Results of the scale validation supported that spite was related to factors such as negative reciprocity beliefs, reactive aggression, and premeditated aggression, but distinct from factors such impulsive aggression. Results also demonstrated that engagement in spitefulness was related to negative reciprocity beliefs. In addition, the results also demonstrated that the selected personality measures were generally poor predictors of trait spitefulness and engagement in spite. Results from the mediation analysis demonstrated a link between trait spitefulness and engaging in spite, but our proposed mediators did not mediate the relationship as predicted. Results from the subject matter expert feedback demonstrated that the experts generally approved of the items. Overall, this research provides the first step in a comprehensive and refined measure of trait spitefulness that reflects its choice-driven and calculated nature, provides a measure that assess engagement in spite. And provides theoretical and practical implications with suggestions for future research.