The Assessment of the Forms and Functions of Childhood Aggression Reconsidered

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Potter, Tracey Meryl
Teglasi, Hedwig
This study examined the relationships between aggression and adjustment with a configuration of aggression categories derived from factor analyses of two commonly used scales to measure aggression, Dodge and Coie's (1987) Reactive/Proactive scale and Crick and Grotpeter's (1995) Children's Social Behavior Scale (relational and overt aggression). Second and third grade students and their teachers completed aggression ratings and a battery of adjustment measures. Teacher and peer rated aggression scales were constructed from an exploratory factor analysis of the aggression items. The teacher rated scales that emerged were pure overt, reactive relational, and reactive overt, and emerging peer rated scales were pure overt and reactive relational. The factor analysis of the teacher ratings revealed numerous cross-loaded as did the analysis of peer ratings. Cross-loaded teacher-rated items captured the construct of emotional dysregulation whereas the cross-loaded peer-rated items represented pure relational aggression. Unique associations were observed between teacher-rated pure overt aggression with externalizing behaviors, peer rated reactive relational aggression with self-rated depression and anxiety symptoms, and peer rated pure overt aggression with self-rated depression symptoms. The results regarding overall gender differences were consistent with prior research in that boys were perceived as more purely overtly aggressive than girls when rated by both their teachers and peers, and girls were perceived as more reactively relationally aggressive than boys when rated by both teachers and peers. Gender was also found to moderate certain relationships between aggression and adjustment. Importance of informant, as well as implications for understanding the construct of aggression and its relationship to adjustment are discussed.