Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 922–931 | Cite as

Simultaneously Testing Parenting and Social Cognitions in Children At-Risk for Aggressive Behavior Problems: Sex Differences and Ethnic Similarities

  • Sabine Stoltz
  • Monique van Londen
  • Maja Deković
  • Peter Prinzie
  • Bram O. de Castro
  • John E. Lochman
Original Paper


In this cross-sectional study we examined a model in which parenting, child social information processing and self-perception are simultaneously tested as risk factors associated with aggression. Sex and ethnicity were tested as moderators of associations. The sample consisted of 206 4th grade children in the Netherlands. Parents reported on parenting, parent–child relationship, and reactive and proactive aggression whereas children reported on self-perception and social information processing. Results give support for both child social cognitive functioning and parenting as risk factors associated with aggressive behavior: For all children, a positive parent–child relationship was associated with less aggression, negative parenting was related to less positive self-perception, and deficits in social-cognitive functioning were related to aggression. Multigroup analyses showed ethnic similarities and sex differences in patterns of associations, which might suggest personalized tailor-made interventions for aggressive behavior.


Parenting Reactive and proactive aggression Social information processing Self-perception 


  1. Abidin, R. R. (1983). Parenting Stress Index: Manual. Charlottesville: Pediatric Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  2. Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the teacher report form and 1991 profiles. Burlington: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  3. Arnold, D. S., O’Leary, S. G., Wolff, L. S., & Acker, M. M. (1993). The Parenting Scale: A measure of dysfunctional parenting in discipline situations. Psychological Assessment, 5, 137–144. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.5.2.137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1973). Aggression: A social learning approach. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Baumeister, R. F., Smart, L., & Boden, J. (1996). Relation of threatened egotism to violence and aggression: The dark side of high self-esteem. Psychological Review, 103, 5–33. doi: 0033-295X/96/$3.00.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Broidy, L. M., Nagin, D. S., Tremblay, R. E., Bates, J. E., Brame, B., Dodge, K. A., et al. (2003). Developmental trajectories of childhood disruptive behaviors and adolescent delinquency: A six-site, cross-national study. Developmental Psychology, 39, 222–245. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.39.2.222.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Campbell, S. B., Spieker, S., Burchinal, M., & Poe, M. D. (2006). Trajectories of aggression from toddlerhood to age 9 predict academic and social functioning through age 12. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 791–800. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01636.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chorpita, B. F., Daleiden, E. L., & Weisz, J. R. (2005). Modularity in the design and application of therapeutic intervention. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 11, 141–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Conger, R. D., Conger, K. J., Elder, G. H., Lorenz, F. O., Simones, R. L., & Whitebeck, L. B. (1993). Family economic stress and adjustment of early adolescent girls. Developmental Psychology, 29, 206–219. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.29.2.206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crick, N. R., & Dodge, K. A. (1994). A review and reformulation of social information-processing mechanisms in children’s social adjustment. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 74–101. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.115.1.74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66, 710–722. doi: 10.2307/1131945.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Castro, B. O., Brendgen, M., van Boxtel, H., Vitaro, F., & Schaepers, L. (2007). Accept me or else: Disputed overestimation of social competence predicts increases in proactive aggression. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 35, 1573–2835. doi: 10.1007/s10802-006-9063-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De Castro, B. O., Merk, W., Koops, W., Veerman, J. W., & Bosch, J. D. (2005). Emotions in social Information processing and their relations with reactive and proactive aggression in referred aggressive boys. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 34, 105–116. doi: 10.1207/s15374424jccp3401_10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Castro, B. O., Veerman, J. W., Koops, W., Bosch, J. D., & Monshouwer, H. J. (2002). Hostile attribution of intent and aggressive behavior: A meta-analysis. Child Development, 73, 916–934. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Deater-Deckard, K., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (1996). Physical discipline among African American and European American mothers: Links to children’s externalizing behaviors. Developmental Psychology, 32, 1065–1072. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.32.6.1065.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Deković, M., Janssens, J. M. A. M., & van As, N. M. C. (2003). Family predictors of antisocial behavior in adolescence. Family Process, 42, 223–235. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2003.42203.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Deković, M., Wissink, I. B., & Meijer, A. (2004). The role of family and peer relations in adolescent antisocial behavior: Comparison of four ethnic groups. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 497–514. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2004.06.010.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dishion, T. J., & Patterson, G. R. (2006). The development and ecology of antisocial behavior in children and adolescents. In D. J. Cohen & D. Cicchetti (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology. Vol. 3: Risk, disorder, and adaptation (pp. 503–541). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  19. Dodge, K. A. (1991). The structure and function of reactive and proactive aggression. In D. Pepler & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), The development and treatment of childhood aggression (pp. 201–218). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associated, Inc.Google Scholar
  20. Dodge, K. A., & Coie, J. D. (1987). Social information processing factors in reactive and proactive aggression in children’s peer groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 1146–1158. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.53.6.1146.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., & Valente, E. (1995). Social information-processing patterns partially mediate the effect of early physical abuse on later conduct problems. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 632–643. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.104.4.632.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Donnellan, M. B., Trzesniewski, K. H., Robins, R. W., Moffitt, T. E., & Caspi, A. (2005). Low self-esteem is related to aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency. Psychological Science, 16, 328–335. doi: 10.1111/j.0956-7976.2005.01535.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics. (2010). Statline, Retreived January 2010, from
  24. Eichelsheim, V., Buist, K., Dekovic, M., Wissink, I., Frijns, T., & van Lier, P., et al. (2009). Associations among the parent–adolescent relationship, aggression and delinquency in different ethnic groups: A replication across two Dutch samples. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 44, 1–8. doi: 10.1007/s00127-009-0071-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Elgar, F., Waschbusch, D., Dadds, M., & Sigvaldason, N. (2007). Development and validation of a short form of the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 16, 243–259. doi: 10.1007/s10826-006-9082-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Forehand, R., & Kotchick, B. A. (1996). Cultural diversity: A wake-up call for parent training. Behavior Therapy, 27, 187–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Forehand, R., Miller, K. S., Dutra, R., & Watts Change, M. (1997). Role of parenting in adolescent deviant behavior: Replications across and within two ethnic groups. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 1036–1041. doi: 1096-4037/99/0600-0071$16.00/0.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harter, S. (1982). The perceived competence scale for children. Child Development, 53, 87–97. doi: 10.2307/1129640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Haskett, M. E., & Willoughby, M. (2007). Paths to child social adjustment: Parenting quality and children’s processing of social information. Child: Care, Health and Development, 33, 67–77. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2006.00627.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hendrickx, M., Crombez, G., Roeyers, H., & De Castro, B. O. (2003). Psychometrische evaluatie van de Nederlandstalige versie van de Agressie Beoordelingsschaal van Dodge en Coie (1987). Tijdschrift voor Gedragstherapie, 36, 33–43.Google Scholar
  31. Horsley, T. A., Orobio de Castro, B., & Van der Schoot, M. (2010). In the eye of the beholder: eye-tracking assessment of social information processing in aggressive behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38, 587–599. doi: 10.1007/s10802-009-9361-x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Janssens, J. M. A. M., Pels, T., Deković, M., & Nijsten, C. (1999). Opvoedingsdoelen van autochtone en allochtone ouders [Child rearing goals of indigenous and nonindigenous parents]. Tijdschrift voor Orthopedagogiek, 38, 318–329.Google Scholar
  33. Kempes, M. M., Orobio de Castro, B., & Sterck, E. H. M. (2008). Conflict management in 6–8 year old aggressive Dutch boys: Do they reconcile? Behaviour, 145, 1701–1722. doi: 10.1163/156853908786131306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kline, R. B. (1998). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  35. Lemerise, E. A., & Arsenio, W. F. (2000). An integrated model of emotion processes and cognition in social information processing. Child Development, 71, 107–118. doi: 0009-3920/2000/7101-0013.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Matthys, W., & Lochman, J. E. (2005). Social problem solving in aggressive children. In M. M. A. J. McGuire (Ed.), Social problem solving and offending (pp. 51–66). Chichester: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Meece, D., & Mize, J. (2010). Multiple aspects of preschool children’s social cognition: Relations with peer acceptance and peer interaction style. Early Child Development and Care, 180, 1476–8275. doi: 10.1080/03004430802181452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mize, J., Pettit, G. S., & Meece, D. (2000). Explaining the link between parenting behavior and children’s peer competence: A critical examination of the “mediating process” hypothesis. In K. Kerns, J. Contreras, & A. M. Neal-Barnett (Eds.), Family and peers: Linking two social worlds (pp. 195–226). New York: Greenwood/Praeger.Google Scholar
  39. Nelson, D., & Coyne, S. (2009). Children’s intent attributions and feelings of distress: Associations with maternal and paternal parenting practices. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 223–237. doi: 10.1007/s10802-008-9271-3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Patterson, G. R., & Fisher, P. A. (2002). Recent developments in our understanding of parenting: Bidirectional effects, causal models, and the search for parsimony. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting. Vol. 5: Practical issues in parenting (Vol. 5, pp. 59–88). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  41. Price, J. M., & Glad, K. (2003). Hostile attributional tendencies in maltreated children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 31, 329–343. doi: 10.1023/A:1023237731683.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rowe, D. C., Vazsonyi, A. T., & Flannery, D. J. (1994). No more than skin deep: Ethnic and racial similarity in developmental process. Psychological Review, 101, 396–413. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.101.3.396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Salmivalli, C. (2001). Feeling good about oneself, being bad to others? Remarks on self-esteem, hositlity, and aggressive behaviors. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 6, 375–393. doi: 10.1016/S1359-1789(00)0012-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Salmivalli, C., Kaukiainen, A., Kaistaniemi, L., & Lagerspetz, K. M. (1999). Self-evaluated self-esteem, peer-evaluated self-esteem, and defensive egotism as predictors of adolescents’ participation in bullying situations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 1268–1278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Snyder, J., Cramer, A., Afrank, J., & Patterson, G. R. (2005). The contributions of ineffective discipline and parental hostile attributions of child misbehavior to the development of conduct problems at home and school. Developmental Psychology, 41, 30–41. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.41.1.30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stevens, G. J. M., & Vollebergh, W. M. (2008). Mental health in migrant children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 276–296. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01848.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stoltz, S., van Londen, M., Deković, M., De Castro, B. O., Prinzie, P. & Lochman, J. E. (2011). The effectiveness of ‘Stay Cool Kids’: An individual preventive intervention for children with aggressive behavior at elementary schools (submitted for publication).Google Scholar
  48. Thomaes, S., Bushman, B., De Castro, B. O., Cohen, G., & Denissen, J. (2009). Reducing narcissistic aggression by buttressing self-esteem: An experimental field study. Psychological Science, 20, 1536–1542. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02478.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Webster-Stratton, C., & Hammond, M. (1997). Treating children with early-onset conduct problems: A comparison of child and parent training interventions. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 93–109.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Weiss, B., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (1992). Some consequences of early harsh discipline: Child aggression and a maladaptive social information processing style. Child Development, 63, 1321–1335. doi: 10.2307/1131558.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wissink, I. B., Deković, M., & Meijer, A. M. (2004). Parenting behavior, quality of the parent-adolescent relationship and adolescent functioning in four ethnic groups. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 26, 133–159. doi: 10.1177/0272431605285718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine Stoltz
    • 1
  • Monique van Londen
    • 1
  • Maja Deković
    • 1
  • Peter Prinzie
    • 1
  • Bram O. de Castro
    • 2
  • John E. Lochman
    • 3
  1. 1.Research Centre Psychosocial Development in ContextUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Developmental PsychologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

Personalised recommendations