Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 641-656

First online:

Reactive Aggression in Boys with Disruptive Behavior Disorders: Behavior, Physiology, and Affect

  • Daniel A. WaschbuschAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Dalhousie University Email author 
  • , William E. PelhamJr.Affiliated withDepartment of Psychology, State University of New York at Buffalo
  • , J. Richard JenningsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDepartment of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
  • , Andrew R. GreinerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
  • , Ralph E. TarterAffiliated withSchool of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy
  • , Howard B. MossAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic

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This study examined responses to peer provocation in boys ages 9–13 years who met symptomatic criteria for ADHD-only, ODD/CD-only, comorbid ADHD/ODD/CD, or no diagnosis. Boys participated in a reaction-time game that included standardized verbal and behavioral provocation. Their behavioral, physiological, and affective responses to this task were measured. Results showed that groups did not differ following high levels of provocation because all boys behaved aggressively. However, following low provocation boys with comorbid ADHD/ODD/CD had higher levels of behavioral aggression, had greater heart rate acceleration, and were rated as angrier than all other boys. In addition, boys with comorbid ADHD/ODD/CD held a grudge longer than other children. Results suggest that boys with comorbid ADHD/ODD/CD are especially reactive to provocation from their peers.

ADHD ODD CD reactive aggression behavior physiology affect