Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 935–946 | Cite as

Neighborhood Deprivation during Early Childhood and Conduct Problems in Middle Childhood: Mediation by Aggressive Response Generation

  • Chardée A. Galán
  • Daniel S. Shaw
  • Thomas J. Dishion
  • Melvin N. Wilson


The tremendous negative impact of conduct problems to the individual and society has provided the impetus for identifying risk factors, particularly in early childhood. Exposure to neighborhood deprivation in early childhood is a robust predictor of conduct problems in middle childhood. Efforts to identify and test mediating mechanisms by which neighborhood deprivation confers increased risk for behavioral problems have predominantly focused on peer relationships and community-level social processes. Less attention has been dedicated to potential cognitive mediators of this relationship, such as aggressive response generation, which refers to the tendency to generate aggressive solutions to ambiguous social stimuli with negative outcomes. In this study, we examined aggressive response generation, a salient component of social information processing, as a mediating process linking neighborhood deprivation to later conduct problems at age 10.5. Participants (N = 731; 50.5 % male) were drawn from a multisite randomized prevention trial that includes an ethnically diverse and low-income sample of male and female children and their primary caregivers followed prospectively from toddlerhood to middle childhood. Results indicated that aggressive response generation partially mediated the relationship between neighborhood deprivation and parent- and teacher-report of conduct problems, but not youth-report. Results suggest that the detrimental effects of neighborhood deprivation on youth adjustment may occur by altering the manner in which children process social information.


Conduct problems Social information processing Neighborhood deprivation Middle childhood 



We wish to thank the families for participation in the study and the research staff for their help with data collection and management. This research was supported by grants DA022773, DA023245, and DA036832 awarded to Daniel S. Shaw, Thomas J. Dishion, and Melvin N. Wilson and grant DA025640 awarded to Daniel S. Shaw from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This work was also supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to Chardée A. Galán.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

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.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2001). ASEBA school age forms and profiles. Burlington: ASEBA.Google Scholar
  2. Angold, A., Costello, E. J., & Erkanli, A. (1999). Comorbidity. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40, 57–87.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Association, A. P. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders 4th edition TR. Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing.Google Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Beyers, J. M., Bates, J. E., Pettit, G. S., & Dodge, K. A. (2003). Neighborhood structure, parenting processes, and the development of youths' externalizing behaviors: a multilevel analysis. American Journal of Community Psychology, 31, 35–53.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Campbell, S. B., Shaw, D. S., & Gilliom, M. (2000). Early externalizing behavior problems: toddlers and preschoolers at risk for later maladjustment. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 467–488.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Camras, L. A., Sachs-Alter, E., & Ribordy, S. C. (1996). Emotion understanding in maltreated children: recognition of facial expressions and integration with other emotion cues. In M. Lewis & M. Sullivan (Eds.), Emotional development in atypical children (pp. 203–225). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  8. Caspi, A., Taylor, A., Moffitt, T. E., & Plomin, R. (2000). Neighbourhood deprivation affects children's mental health: environmental risks identified in a genetic design. Psychological Science, 11, 338–342.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Choe, D. E., Lane, J. D., Grabell, A. S., & Olson, S. L. (2013). Developmental precursors of young school-age children's hostile attribution bias. Developmental Psychology, 49, 2245.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Choe, D. E., Shaw, D. S., & Forbes, E. E. (2015). Maladaptive social information processing in childhood predicts young men's atypical amygdala reactivity to threat. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56, 549–557.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Choe, D. E., Shaw, D. S., Dishion, T. J., & Wilson, M. (2016). Neighborhood poverty, mobility, and children’s conduct problems from early to middle childhood. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
  12. Chung, H. L., & Steinberg, L. (2006). Relations between neighborhood factors, parenting behaviors, peer deviance, and delinquency among serious juvenile offenders. Developmental Psychology, 42, 319.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Cohen, M. A. (1998). The monetary value of saving a high-risk youth. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 14, 5–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Crane, J. (1991). The epidemic theory of ghettos and neighborhood effects on dropping out and teenage childbearing. American Journal of Sociology, 96, 1226–1259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dodge, K. A., & Pettit, G. S. (2003). A biopsychosocial model of the development of chronic conduct problems in adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 39, 349–371.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Dodge, K. A., & Price, J. M. (1994). On the relation between social information processing and socially competent behavior in early school-aged children. Child Development, 65, 1385–1397.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Dodge, K. A., & Somberg, D. R. (1987). Hostile attributional biases among aggressive boys are exacerbated under conditions of threats to the self. Child Development, 58, 213–224.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (1990). Mechanisms in the cycle of violence. Science, 250, 1678–1683.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 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.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Duncan, G. J., & Magnuson, K. (2001). Off with Hollingshead: socioeconomic resources, parenting, and child development. In M. Bornstein & R. Bradley (Eds.), Socioeconomic status, parenting, and child development (pp. 83–106). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  22. Duncan, G. J., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Klebanov, P. K. (1994). Economic deprivation and early childhood development. Child Development, 65, 296–318.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Elliott, D. S., Huizinga, D., & Ageton, S. S. (1985). Explaining delinquency and drug use. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Evans, G. W. (2004). The environment of childhood poverty. American Psychologist, 59, 77.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Fontaine, R. G., & Dodge, K. (2009). Social information processing and aggressive behavior: a transactional perspective. In A. J. Sameroff (Ed.), The transactional model of development: how children and contexts shape each other (pp. 117–135). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fontaine, R. G., Yang, C., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (2009). Development of response evaluation and decision (RED) and antisocial behavior in childhood and adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 45, 447.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. Gaylord-Harden, N., Ragsdale, B. L., Mandara, J., Richards, M. H., & Petersen, A. C. (2007). Perceived support and internalizing symptoms in african american adolescents: self-esteem and ethnic identity as mediators. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 77–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hayes, A. F. (2012). PROCESS: A versatile computational tool for observed variable moderation, mediation, and conditional process modeling [White paper]. Retrieved from
  29. Higgins, E. T. (1990). Personality, social psychology, and person-situation relations: standards and knowledge activation as a common language. In L. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of personality: theory and research (pp. 301–338). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  30. Hogan, D. P., & Kitagawa, E. M. (1985). The impact of social status, family structure, and neighborhood on the fertility of black adolescents. American Journal of Sociology, 90, 825–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hyde, L. W., Shaw, D. S., & Moilanen, K. L. (2010). Developmental precursors of moral disengagement and the role of moral disengagement in the development of antisocial behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38, 197–209.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. Ingoldsby, E., & Shaw, D. S. (2002). Neighborhood contextual factors and the onset and progression of early-starting antisocial pathways. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 5, 21–55.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Ingoldsby, E., Shaw, D. S., Winslow, E., Schonberg, M., Gilliom, M., & Criss, M. (2006). Neighborhood disadvantage, parent–child conflict, neighborhood peer relationships, and early antisocial behavior problem trajectories. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34, 303–319.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Jabson, J. M., Dishion, T. J., Gardner, F. E. M., & Burton, J. (2004). Relationship Process Code v-2.0. training manual: A system for coding relationship interactions. Unpublished coding manual. Available from the Child and Family Center, 160 East 4th Avenue, Eugene, OR 97401–2426.Google Scholar
  35. Jencks, C., & Mayer, S. (1990). The social consequences of growing up in a poor neighborhood. In L. E. Lynn & M. F. H. McGeary (Eds.), Inner-city poverty in the United States (pp. 111–186). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  36. Kessler, R. C., McGonagle, K. A., Zhao, S., Nelson, C. B., Hughes, M., Eshleman, S., & Kendler, K. S. (1994). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders in the United States: results from the national comorbidity study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51, 8–19.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Kohen, D. E., Leventhal, T., Dahinten, V. S., & McIntosh, C. N. (2008). Neighborhood disadvantage: pathways of effects for young children. Child Development, 79, 156–169.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Lahey, B. B., Pelham, W. E., Loney, J., Kipp, H., Ehrhardt, A., Lee, S. S., & Massetti, G. (2004). Three-year predictive validity of DSM-IV attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children diagnosed at 4-6 years of age. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 2014–2020.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Leventhal, T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000). The neighborhoods they live in: the effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent outcomes. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 309–337.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Leventhal, T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2003). Children and youth in neighborhood contexts. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 27–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. MacKinnon, D. P., Krull, J. L., & Lockwood, C. M. (2000). Equivalence of the mediation, confounding and suppression effect. Prevention Science, 1, 173–181.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  42. Messer, L. C., Laraia, B. A., Kaufman, J. S., Eyster, J., Holzman, C., Culhane, J., et al. (2006). The development of a standardized neighborhood deprivation index. Journal of Urban Health, 83, 1041–1062.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  43. Meyer-Lindenberg, A., Buckholtz, J. W., Kolachana, B., Hariri, A. R., Pezawas, L., Blasi, G., & Egan, M. (2006). Neural mechanisms of genetic risk for impulsivity and violence in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 6269–6274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mielke, H. W. (2002). Research ethics in pediatric environmental health: lessons from lead. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 24, 467–469.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: a developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674–701.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Moffitt, T. E., & Caspi, A. (2001). Childhood predictors differentiate life-course persistent and adolescence-limited antisocial pathways among males and females. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 355–375.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Moilanen, K. L., Shaw, D. S., Dishion, T. J., Gardner, F., & Wilson, M. (2010). Predictors of longitudinal growth in inhibitory control in early childhood. Social Development, 19, 326–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Murphy, G. L., & Medin, D. L. (1985). The role of theories in conceptual coherence. Psychological Review, 92, 289.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Needleman, H. L., & Bellinger, D. (2001). Studies of lead exposure and the developing central nervous system: a reply to Kaufman. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 16, 359–374.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Needleman, H. L., McFarland, C., Ness, R. B., Fienberg, S. E., & Tobin, M. J. (2002). Bone lead levels in adjudicated delinquents: a case control study. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 24, 711–717.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Odgers, C. L., Moffitt, T. E., Broadbent, J. M., Dickson, N., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., & Caspi, A. (2008). Female and male antisocial trajectories: from childhood origins to adult outcomes. Development and Psychopathology, 20, 673–716.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Peeples, F., & Loeber, R. (1994). Do individual factors and neighborhood context explain ethnic differences in juvenile delinquency? Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 10, 141–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pelham Jr., W. E., Gnagy, E. M., Greenslade, K. E., & Milich, R. (1992). Teacher ratings of DSM-III-R symptoms for the disruptive behavior disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 31, 210–218.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Perkins, S. C., Cortina, K. S., Smith-Darden, J., & Graham-Bermann, S. (2012). The mediating role of self-regulation between intrafamilial violence and mental health adjustment in incarcerated male adolescents. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27, 1199.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Pianta, R. C., Steinberg, M. S., & Rollins, K. B. (1995). The first two years of school: teacher child relationships and deflections in children's classroom adjustment. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 295–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ponce, N. A., Hoggatt, K. J., Wilhelm, M., & Ritz, B. (2005). Preterm birth: the interaction of traffic-related air pollution with economic hardship in Los Angeles neighborhoods. American Journal of Epidemiology, 162, 140–148.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  57. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 879–891.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: a self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Robinson, E., Eyberg, S., & Ross, A. (1980). The standardization of an inventory of child conduct problem behaviors. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 9, 22–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., Hershey, K. L., & Fisher, P. (2001). Investigations of temperament at three to seven years: the Children's behavior questionnaire. Child Development, 72, 1394–1408.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Runions, K. C., & Keating, D. P. (2007). Young children's social information processing: family antecedents and behavioral correlates. Developmental Psychology, 43, 838.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Salzer Burks, V., Laird, R. D., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1999). Knowledge structures, social information processing, and children’s aggressive behavior. Social Development, 8, 220–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Sampson, R. J. (1997). Collective regulation of adolescent misbehavior: validation results from eighty Chicago neighborhoods. Journal of Adolescent Research, 12, 227–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schultz, D., & Shaw, D. S. (2003). Boys' maladaptive social information processing, family emotional climate, and pathways to early conduct problems. Social Development, 12, 440–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Schwartz, D., & Proctor, L. J. (2000). Community violence exposure and children’s social adjustment in the school peer group: the mediating roles of emotion regulation and social cognition. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 670–683.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Shahinfar, A., Kupersmidt, J. B., & Matza, L. S. (2001). The relation between exposure to violence and social information processing among incarcerated adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 136.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Shaw, D. S. (2013). Future directions for research on the development and prevention of early conduct problems. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 42, 418–428.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  68. Shaw, D. S., Gilliom, M., Ingoldsby, E. M., & Nagin, D. S. (2003). Trajectories leading to school-age conduct problems. Developmental Psychology, 39, 189–200.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Shaw, D. S., Sitnick, S. L., Brennan, L. M., Choe, D. E., Dishion, T. J., Wilson, M. N., & Gardner, F. (2015). The long-term effectiveness of the family check-up on school-age conduct problems: moderation by neighborhood deprivation. Development and Psychopathology. doi: 10.1017/S0954579415001212.
  70. Stromquist, V. J., & Strauman, T. J. (1992). Children’s social constructs: II. Nature, assessment, and association with adaptive and maladaptive behavior. Social Cognition, 9, 330–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Supplee, L. H., Unikel, E. B., & Shaw, D. S. (2007). Physical environmental adversity and the protective role of maternal monitoring in relation to early child conduct problems. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 28, 166–183.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  72. Vanderbilt-Adriance, E., & Shaw, D. S. (2008). Protective factors and the development of resilience in the context of neighborhood disadvantage. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 887–901.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  73. Votruba-Drzal, E. (2006). Economic disparities in middle childhood development: does income matter? Developmental Psychology, 42, 1154.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Wikström, P. O. H., & Loeber, R. (2000). Do disadvantaged neighborhoods cause well- adjusted children to become adolescent delinquents? A study of male juvenile serious offending, individual risk and protective factors, and neighborhood context. Criminology, 38, 1109–1142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Winslow, E. B., & Shaw, D. S. (2007). Impact of neighborhood disadvantage on overt behavior problems during early childhood. Aggressive Behavior, 33, 207–219.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  76. Zhao, X., Lynch, J. G., & Chen, Q. (2010). Reconsidering baron and Kenny: myths and truths about mediation analysis. Journal of Consumer Research, 37, 197–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chardée A. Galán
    • 1
  • Daniel S. Shaw
    • 1
  • Thomas J. Dishion
    • 2
  • Melvin N. Wilson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Special EducationArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations