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Separation anxiety and the inhibition of aggression in preschool children


The anxiety, aggression, and affiliation responses of 10 high- and 10 low-separation-anxious 3-year-old children were observed under a control and a frustrating condition to test the hypothesis that separation anxiety is associated with the inhibition of aggression. High-separation-anxious Ss manifested significantly less (p < .01) increased aggression to frustration than did low-separation-anxious Ss; there were no group differences in state anxiety arousal or affiliation responses. The results were discussed in terms of the concept of anxiety as a drive having both cue and response-enhancing functions.

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Author information

Correspondence to Anne McIntyre.

Additional information

This study was funded by a college research grant from the New York State College of Human Ecology at Cornell University. Special thanks are due to James Cox, Lisa Fremont, and Sharon McNulty for their help in carrying out this study and to the staffs and children of the Ithaca preschool programs who made this research possible.

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McIntyre, A., Wolf, B. Separation anxiety and the inhibition of aggression in preschool children. J Abnorm Child Psychol 1, 400–409 (1973).

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  • Preschool Child
  • State Anxiety
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Affiliation Response
  • Anxiety Arousal