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Although the link between reactively aggressive behavior and depressive symptoms in childhood has been demonstrated in previous work, few studies have examined how peer factors may influence this association. Examining the role of peers in the link between reactive aggression and depressive symptoms is necessary, as peers have been found to buffer the impact of factors that contribute to depressive symptoms in childhood. Accordingly, we examined whether intimate exchange with a best friend moderated the association between reactive aggression and depression in childhood in a sample of 115 children (aged 5–14; M = 8.88; 87 % minority; 53 % male) who attended a community based summer program. Consistent with expectation, reactive aggression was positively associated with child depressive symptoms whereas proactive aggression was negatively associated with depressive symptoms. Further, the interaction between intimate exchange and reactive aggression was associated with child depressive symptoms. Specifically, the association between reactive aggression and depressive symptoms was weaker when levels of intimate exchange were high. Thus, the current study suggests that close peer relationships may help to buffer the link between reactively aggressive behavior and depressive symptoms. Implications for findings include the need to target friendships to help prevent depressive symptoms for reactively aggressive youth.
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- The Role of Intimate Exchange in the Link Between Reactive Aggression and Child Depressive Symptoms
Teresa M. Preddy
Paula J. Fite
Amber R. Wimsatt
Michael L. Vitulano
Alden E. Gaertner
- Springer US