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Development of aggression subtypes from childhood to adolescence: A group-based multi-trajectory modelling perspective

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalJournal of abnormal child psychology
Early online date7 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Nov 2018

Abstract

The persistence of elevated subtypes of aggression beginning in childhood have been associated with long-term maladaptive outcomes. Yet it remains unclear to what extent there are clusters of individuals following similar developmental trajectories across forms (i.e., physical and indirect) and functions (i.e., proactive and reactive) of aggression. We aimed to identify groups of children with distinct profiles of the joint development of forms and functions of aggression and to identify risk factors for group membership. A sample of 787 children was followed from birth to adolescence. Parent and teacher reports, and standardised assessments were used to measure two forms and two functions of aggressive behaviour, between six and 13 years of age along with preceding child, maternal, and family-level risk-factors. Analyses were conducted using a group-based multi-trajectory modelling approach.Five trajectory groups emerged: non-aggressors, low-stable, moderate-engagers, high-desisting, and high-chronic. Coercive parenting increased membership risk in the moderate-engagers and high-chronic groups. Lower maternal IQ increased membership risk in both high-desisting and high-chronic groups, whereas maternal depression increased membership risk in the high-desisting group only. Never being breastfed increased membership risk in the moderate-engagers group. Boys were at greater risk for belonging to all groups displaying elevated aggression. Individuals with chronic aggression problems use all subtypes of aggression. Risk factors suggest that prevention programs should start early in life and target mothers with lower IQ. Strategies to deal with maternal depression and enhance positive parenting while replacing coercive parenting tactics should be highlighted in programming efforts.

    Research areas

  • aggression, developmental trajectories, group-based modelling, longitudinal

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