Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 44, Issue 8, pp 1515–1526

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


DOI: 10.1007/s10802-016-0143-y

Cite this article as:
Colasante, T., Zuffianò, A. & Malti, T. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2016) 44: 1515. doi:10.1007/s10802-016-0143-y


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 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (CA)
    Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CA)

      Copyright information

      © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

      Authors and Affiliations

      • Tyler Colasante
        • 1
      • 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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