A Longitudinal Examination Of The Behavioral Characteristics Associated With The Emergence Of Early Adolescent Conduct Problems In Girls And Boys.

Open Access
Bruschi, Carole Jean
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 14, 2003
Committee Members:
  • Karen Linn Bierman, Committee Chair
  • Mark T Greenberg, Committee Member
  • Tiffany G Townsend, Committee Member
  • Jeffrey G Parker, Committee Member
  • Developmental Psychopathology
  • Girls Aggression
  • Mental Health Prevention
The purpose of this study was to explore gender similarities and differences in the longitudinal relations between kindergarten behavioral characteristics, 4th grade adaptation ratings, and 7th grade self-reported antisocial activity, substance use, and sexual activity. In the present study, girls and boys followed the same model in the emergence of antisocial activity. Kindergarten aggressive and dysregulated behaviors (hyperactivity, inattention, opposition) uniquely predicted antisocial activity. Fourth grade adaptation (peer and academic) ratings contributed with aggressive and dysregulated behavioral characteristics to predict substance use and sexual activity. Although boys were more likely than girls to exhibit overt aggression at school entry, girls who were aggressive had outcomes that were similar to aggressive boys. Dysregulated behavior problems that were part of the disruptive behavior spectrum (e.g., hyperactivity, oppositionality, and inattention) contributed to antisocial and related risky outcomes in similar ways for girls and boys. Gender differences in the extent to which antisocial adolescents had grade-school histories of aggressive behavior appeared to reflect base rate differences in the prevalence of overt aggression at school entry, rather than gender differences in the predictive course of aggression or other dysregulated behaviors during middle childhood. Results highlight the importance of assessing similar models of behavioral characteristics and adaptation markers in the prediction of preadolescent conduct problems for both girls and boys. Future research is needed to delineate the specific processes by which early aggression, associated dysregulated behaviors, and grade-school peer and academic problems are linked to later conduct problems.