European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 38–45 | Cite as

A parent questionnaire for distinguishing between reactive and proactive aggression in children

  • Maaike Kempes
  • Walter Matthys
  • Gerard Maassen
  • Stephanie van Goozen
  • Herman van Engeland



Evidence suggests that reactive and proactive aggression can be distinguished on the basis of teacher-rating scales. In this article a newly developed parent-rated questionnaire that aims to distinguish between reactive and proactive aggression is evaluated with regard to its structure and validity.


In study 1, a confirmatory factor analysis was performed on the data of 442 children aged 6–12 years of a general population. Study 2 examined the relations between the two forms of aggression and hostile intentions, expected outcome of aggression, ADHD symptoms and callous-unemotional traits in a sample of 40 normal and 40 disruptive behaviour disordered boys aged 8–12 years.


The confirmatory factor analysis showed that the two-factor model, unlike a singlefactor model, produced a reasonable fit to the data. The results of study 2 showed that the correlations between the different variables and reactive aggression differed from the correlations with proactive aggression in ways that were consistent with theoretical definitions and earlier findings.


These results, in addition to those of earlier studies using teacher-rating scales, suggest that it is possible to make a valid distinction between reactive and proactive aggression using this newly developed parent-rated questionnaire.

Key words

reactive aggression proactive aggression parentrating scale disruptive behaviour disorder 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maaike Kempes
    • 1
  • Walter Matthys
    • 1
  • Gerard Maassen
    • 2
  • Stephanie van Goozen
    • 3
  • Herman van Engeland
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Rudolf Magnus Institute of NeuroscienceUniversity Medical Centre UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Social Sciences (Interuniversity Graduate School of Psychometrics and Sociometrics)Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.School of PsychologyCardiff UniversityCardiff (Wales)UK

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