Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 97–110 | Cite as

Examining Subtypes of Behavior Problems Among 3-Year-Old Children, Part I: Investigating Validity of Subtypes and Biological Risk-Factors

  • Elizabeth A. Harvey
  • Julie L. Friedman-Weieneth
  • Lauren H. Goldstein
  • Alison H. Sherman
Original Paper


This study examined 3-year-old children who were classified as hyperactive (HYP), oppositional-defiant (OD), hyperactive and oppositional defiant (HYP/OD), and non-problem based on mothers’ reports of behavior. Using fathers,’ teachers,’ and observers’ ratings of children's behavior, concurrent validity was excellent for the HYP/OD group, moderate for the HYP group, and poor for the OD group. As predicted, both the HYP/OD and HYP groups reported more prenatal/perinatal birth complications and a greater family history of hyperactivity than did non-problem children. Furthermore, the HYP/OD group showed a greater family history of conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptoms than did non-problem children; however, the HYP group also showed a greater family history of ODD than did non-problem children. Results suggest that as early as age 3, these behavior subtypes appear to be linked to biologically-based risk-factors in ways that are consistent with theories of the development of ADHD.


Hyperactivity Oppositional defiance Comorbidity Preschool-aged children 



This study was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01MH60132. We are grateful to the families who participated in this study and to staff from physicians’ offices and community centers who assisted in recruiting families. Thanks also to the many graduate and undergraduate research assistants who assisted with data collection, and to Sally Powers and David Arnold who provided suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Harvey
    • 1
    • 2
  • Julie L. Friedman-Weieneth
    • 2
  • Lauren H. Goldstein
    • 2
  • Alison H. Sherman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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