The relationships among aggressive functions, family factors, and internalizing and externalizing symptoms in youth
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Aggression is a heterogeneous behavior that has been conceptualized by two distinct but inter-related functions: proactive and reactive aggression (Dodge, 1991). Proactive aggression has been linked to externalizing behaviors and reactive aggression to internalizing behaviors (Vitaro, Gendreau, Tremblay, & Oligny, 1998). There has been some evidence to suggest that family environment may influence the relationship between the aggressive functions and the related forms of psychopathology (Dodge, 1991). However, given the limited research pertaining to the relationships among aggression, family environment, and subsequent psychopathology, the current study explored the nature of the relationships among these variables in more detail. The present study hypothesized that proactive aggression would be related to externalizing symptoms (delinquency, hyperactivity), and these relationships would be moderated by family conflict. In addition, it was predicted that reactive aggression would be related to internalizing symptoms and inattention, and these relationships would be moderated by family conflict, cohesion, and control. The study included a sample of 135 children and their parents who completed several self-report measures. Overall, the findings did not support the hypotheses, though there was mixed support for the relationship between the aggressive functions and internalizing and externalizing symptoms.
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