Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 539-552

First online:

Distinguishing Proactive and Reactive Aggression in Chinese Children

  • Yiyuan XuAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Manoa Email author 
  • , Zengxiu ZhangAffiliated withEast China Normal University

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This study examined proactive and reactive aggression and their relation to psychosocial adjustment in three samples (N = 767, 368 girls, M age = 10.03) of Chinese school age children. Confirmatory factor analyses revealed that a two-factor model which distinguished both proactive and reactive aggression fit the data reasonably well, and also fit the data better than a single-factor model in all three samples. The distinction between proactive and reactive aggression was found for both boys and girls. Reactive aggression was more strongly related to reciprocated friendship (negatively), peer victimization, emotion dysregulation, hostile attributions of others’ behavior in ambiguous social situations, and self-reported loneliness and social anxiety (positively) than was proactive aggression. Proactive aggression was related to positive outcome expectancies and efficacy beliefs of aggression for boys but not for girls, but the significant gender difference was only found for positive outcome expectancies. The findings suggest that proactive and reactive aggression represent two distinct forms of aggression which are associated with specific adjustment outcomes in Chinese children.


Proactive aggression Reactive aggression Adjustment Chinese