Different forms (e.g. physical and relational) and functions of aggression (e.g. proactive and reactive) have been acknowledged in the literature on aggressive behavior. Physical as well as relational subtypes are associated with psychological, social, and academic concerns for both victims and perpetrators (e.g. Fantuzzo & McWayne, 2002; Crick et al., 1999). However, other findings note associations with prosocial behavior and positive outcomes (e.g. Hawley, 2003). Less work has examined differential outcomes between the two functions of aggression. Additionally, limited work has considered cognitive factors to help explain these behaviors. In order to reconcile some of these conflicting studies, the current study examined the role of executive function (EF) and effortful control (EC) in subtypes of relationally and physically aggressive behavior. Children between the ages of 7 and 12 (N=130) completed laboratory session tasks assessing EF and related social-cognition. Parents and teachers completed rating forms of social behavior, effortful control (EC), and academic outcomes. Regression analyses yielded support for both models posited, but only for the constructs of IQ, delay of gratification, abstract thinking, inhibitory control, and anger/frustration. However, results were not in expected directions (i.e. analyses with younger children showed evidence for the deficit model, while results for older children were consistent with the cognitive sophistication model. Associations between subtypes of relational aggression and academic and social outcomes were also examined in secondary analyses, along with social-cognitive moderating factors (e.g. theory of social mind, victimization). Applications and considerations for intervention are discussed based on the current findings.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2012. Major: Child Psychology. Advisors: Dr. Nicki R. Crick, Dr. Ann S. Masten. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 120 pages, appendices A-B.
Lingras, Katherine A..
For better or worse? a developmental perspective on the role of executive function in relational aggression..
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