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15-09-2015 | Uitgave 4/2016

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 4/2016

Dual Trajectories of Reactive and Proactive Aggression from Mid-childhood to Early Adolescence: Relations to Sensation Seeking, Risk Taking, and Moral Reasoning

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 4/2016
Lixian Cui, Tyler Colasante, Tina Malti, Denis Ribeaud, Manuel P. Eisner


We examined the roles of sensation seeking, risk taking, and moral reasoning in the development of reactive and proactive aggression. Data were drawn from a multiethnic, longitudinal study of children from Switzerland (N = 1571; 52 % male; assessed annually over 6 years; 7-years-old at Time 1). At all 6 time points, teachers reported children’s reactive and proactive aggression via questionnaire. Children’s sensation seeking (at Time 1) and risk taking (at Time 2) were assessed with two interactive computer tasks and their moral reasoning was assessed at Time 2 in response to four hypothetical vignettes depicting moral transgressions. Parallel process Latent Class Growth Analysis (PP-LCGA) identified six dual trajectories of reactive and proactive aggression. Children with either childhood-limited or adolescent-onset aggression showed high sensation seeking. Children with persistent, high levels of both reactive and proactive aggression across time showed high levels of sensation seeking and risk taking, as well as low levels of moral reasoning. Children with only high risk taking were more likely to display moderate levels of aggression across time. These findings highlight the shared and differential roles of sensation seeking, risk taking, and moral reasoning in the dual development of reactive and proactive aggression from mid-childhood to early adolescence. We discuss implications for common and tailored strategies to combat these aggression subtypes.

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