Exploring the Association between Aggression and Anxiety in Youth: A Look at Aggressive Subtypes, Gender, and Social Cognition
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- Marsee, M.A., Weems, C.F. & Taylor, L.K. J Child Fam Stud (2008) 17: 154. doi:10.1007/s10826-007-9154-1
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We examined the associations among dimensions of aggression and anxiety disorder symptoms in an ethnically diverse community sample of youth (N = 83; 46% female). Research supports the existence of four aggressive subtypes (i.e., reactive overt, reactive relational, proactive overt, and proactive relational), and past research has found associations between relational aggression and anxiety, as well as between reactive aggression and anxiety. However, past studies have not examined the associations among anxiety symptoms and the combined subtypes of aggression mentioned above. Results of our study provided support for an association between anxiety and reactive relational aggression. In addition, gender was found to moderate the association, in that males with high anxiety showed higher levels of reactive relational aggression than males with low anxiety and girls. Further, we found that socially based negative cognitive errors mediated the association between reactive relational aggression and anxiety. Results are discussed in terms of clarifying gender differences in aggression, treatment implications, and the need for longitudinal studies to delineate the temporal associations between aggression and anxiety.