Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 44, Issue 8, pp 1515–1526 | Cite as

Daily Deviations in Anger, Guilt, and Sympathy: A Developmental Diary Study of Aggression

  • Tyler ColasanteEmail author
  • Antonio Zuffianò
  • Tina Malti


With a diary study of 4- and 8-year-olds, we tested the association between daily deviations in anger and aggressive behavior, and whether this link was moderated by feelings of guilt and sympathy. Caregivers reported their children’s anger and aggression for 10 consecutive days (470 records; N = 80, 53 % girls). To calculate daily anger deviations from average anger levels, we subtracted each child’s average anger score (i.e., across 10 days) from his/her daily anger scores. Children reported their guilty feelings in response to vignettes depicting intentional harm, as well as their dispositional sympathy levels. Multilevel modeling indicated that within-child spikes in daily anger were associated with more aggression, above and beyond between-child differences in average anger levels. However, this association was weaker for children who reported higher levels of guilt. Sympathy did not moderate the anger-aggression link. We discuss potential implications for affective-developmental models of aggression and interventions that target anger-related aggression.


Aggression Anger Guilt Sympathy Childhood Diary study 



This research was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The authors thank the children and caregivers who participated, and the members of the Laboratory for Social-Emotional Development and Intervention (SEDI) who helped with data collection, entry, and coding.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Tyler Colasante declares that he has no conflict of interest. Antonio Zuffianò declares that he has no conflict of interest. Tina Malti declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tyler Colasante
    • 1
    Email author
  • Antonio Zuffianò
    • 2
  • Tina Malti
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Toronto MississaugaMississaugaCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK

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