Children with disruptive behavior (DB) are a heterogeneous group who exhibit several characteristics that may contribute to poor social functioning. The present study identified profiles of reactive aggression, proactive aggression, callous-unemotional (CU) traits, and prosocial behavior in a sample of children with DB. Associations with social functioning (social interaction, social status) were then examined, along with sex differences in profile membership. Parent ratings of 304 clinic-referred children ages 6–12 years with DB were analyzed using latent profile analysis. Five profiles were identified: 1) Moderate prosocial behavior, reactive aggression, and CU, and low proactive aggression (labelled Moderate); 2) Relatively high prosocial behavior and low reactive and proactive aggression and CU traits (Prosocial); 3) High prosocial behavior and reactive aggression, moderate proactive aggression, and low-moderate CU (Reactive-Prosocial); 4) Low prosocial behavior, high CU, high-moderate reactive aggression, and low-moderate proactive aggression (Reactive-CU); and 5) Low prosocial behavior and high reactive and proactive aggression and CU (Aggressive-CU). Profiles characterized by CU traits, reactive aggression, and low prosocial behavior were associated with the most problematic parent-rated social interaction and social status. The results highlight the need to differentiate profiles of psychopathology in children with DB to better address factors most associated with social functioning.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Achenbach, T. M., McConaughy, S. H., & Howell, C. T. (1987). Child/adolescent behavioral and emotional problems: implications of cross-informant correlations for situational specificity. Psychological Bulletin, 101(2), 213–232. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.101.2.213.
Aitken, M., Martinussen, R., Wolfe, R. G., & Tannock, R. (2015). Factor structure of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire in a Canadian elementary school sample. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 40(3), 155–165. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534508414560347.
Andrade, B. F., & Wade, M. (2016). Latent profiles of externalizing psychopathology and their relation to children’s aggression and social behavior. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 37(6), 442–450.
Andrade, B. F., Browne, D. T., & Tannock, R. (2014a). Prosocial skills may be necessary for better peer functioning in children with symptoms of disruptive behavior disorders. PeerJ, 2, e487. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.487.
Andrade, B. F., Sorge, G. B., Na, J. J., & Wharton-Shukster, E. (2014b). Clinical profiles of children with disruptive behaviors based on the severity of their conduct problems, callous-unemotional traits and emotional difficulties. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 46, 567–576. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-014-0497-8.
Andrade, B. F., Sorge, G. B., Djordjevic, D., & Naber, A. R. (2015). Callous–unemotional traits influence the severity of peer problems in children with impulsive/overactive and oppositional/defiant behaviors. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(8), 2183–2190. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-014-0021-6.
Asparouhov, T., & Muthén, B. (2014). Auxiliary variables in mixture modeling: Three-step approaches using Mplus. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 21, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705511.2014.915181.
Atkins, M. S., Pelham, W. E., & Licht, M. H. (1988). The development and validation of objective classroom measures of conduct and attention deficit disorders. In R. J. Prinz (Ed.), Advances in behavioral assessment of children and families (pp. 3–31). Greenwich: JAI Press.
Berger, C., Batanova, M., & Cance, J. D. (2015). Aggressive and prosocial? Examining latent profiles of behavior, social status, machiavellianism, and empathy. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0298-9.
Bergman, L. R., & Magnusson, D. (1997). A person-oriented approach in research on developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 9(2), 291–319.
Brennan, L. M., Shaw, D. S., Dishion, T. J., & Wilson, M. N. (2014). The predictive utility of early childhood disruptive behaviors for school-age social functioning. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43(6), 1187–1199. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-014-9967-5.
Card, N. A., & Little, T. D. (2006). Proactive and reactive aggression in childhood and adolescence: A meta-analysis of differential relations with psychosocial adjustment. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 30(5), 466–480. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025406071904.
Ciucci, E., Baroncelli, A., Franchi, M., Golmaryami, F. N., & Frick, P. J. (2014). The association between callous-unemotional traits and behavioral and academic adjustment in children: Further validation of the inventory of callous-unemotional traits. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 36(2), 189–200. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-013-9384-z.
Coie, J. D., Dodge, K. A., & Coppotelli, H. (1982). Dimensions and types of social status: A cross-age perspective. Developmental Psychology, 18(4), 557–570. https://doi.org/10.1037//0012-16126.96.36.1997.
Collins, L. M., & Lanza, S. T. (2010). The latent class model. In Latent Class and Latent Transition Analysis (pp. 23–47). New York: Wiley.
Crick, N. R. (1996). The role of overt aggression, relational aggression, and prosocial behavior in the prediction of children’s future social adjustment. Child Development, 67(5), 2317–2327.
Dadds, M. R., Fraser, J., & Hawes, D. J. (2005). Disentangling the underlying dimensions of psychopathy and conduct problems in childhood: a community study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(3), 400–410. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.73.3.400.
Dadds, M. R., Allen, J. L., McGregor, K., Woolgar, M., Viding, E., & Scott, S. (2014). Callous-unemotional traits in children and mechanisms of impaired eye contact during expressions of love: A treatment target? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 55(7), 771–780. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12155.
Deater-Deckard, K. (2001). Annotation: Recent research examining the role of peer relationships in the development of psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 42(5), 565–579. https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-7610.00753.
Dirks, M. A., De Los Reyes, A., Briggs-Gowan, M., Cella, D., & Wakschlag, L. S. (2012). Annual research review: Embracing not erasing contextual variability in children’s behavior - Theory and utility in the selection and use of methods and informants in developmental psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(5), 558–574. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02537.x.
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(6), 1146–1158. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.526.
Eisenberg, N., & Miller, P. A. (1987). The relation of empathy to prosocial and related behaviors. Psychological Bulletin, 101(1), 91–119. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.101.1.91.
Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Karbon, M., Murphy, B. C., Wosinski, M., Polazzi, L., et al. (1996). The relations of children’s dispositional prosocial behavior to emotionality, regulation, and social functioning. Child Development, 67, 974–992. https://doi.org/10.2307/1131874.
Fanti, K. A. (2013). Individual, social, and behavioral factors associated with co-occurring conduct problems and callous-unemotional traits. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41(5), 811–824. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-013-9726-z.
Fanti, K. A., Frick, P. J., & Georgiou, S. (2009). Linking callous-unemotional traits to instrumental and non-instrumental forms of aggression. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 31(4), 285–298. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-008-9111-3.
Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Ridder, E. M. (2005). Show me the child at seven: The consequences of conduct problems in childhood for psychosocial functioning in adulthood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(8), 837–849. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00387.x.
Frick, P. J. (2004). Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits. New Orleans: University of New Orleans.
Frick, P. J., & Hare, R. D. (2001). Antisocial Processes Screening Device. Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.
Frick, P. J., Cornell, A. H., Barry, C. T., Bodin, S. D., & Dane, H. E. (2003). Callous-unemotional traits and conduct problems in the prediction of conduct problem severity, aggression, and self-report of delinquency. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 31(4), 457–470. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1023899703866.
Frick, P. J., Ray, J. V., Thornton, L. C., & Kahn, R. E. (2013). Can callous-unemotional traits enhance the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of serious conduct problems in children and adolescents? A comprehensive review. Psychological Bulletin, 140(1), 1–57. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0033076.
Frick, P. J., Ray, J. V., Thornton, L. C., & Kahn, R. E. (2014). Annual research review: A developmental psychopathology approach to understanding callous-unemotional traits in children and adolescents with serious conduct problems. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55(6), 532–548. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12152.
Glascoe, F. P. (2003). Parents’ evaluation of developmental status: How well do parents’ concerns identify children with behavioral and emotional problems? Clinical Pediatrics, 42(2), 133–138.
Goodman, R. (1997). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: a research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38(11), 581–586. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004583-200111000-00015.
Gresham, F. M., Elliott, S. N., Cook, C. R., Vance, M. J., & Kettler, R. J. (2010). Cross-informant agreement for ratings for social skill and problem behavior ratings: An investigation of the Social Skills Improvement System—Rating Scales. Psychological Assessment, 22(1), 157.
Haapasalo, J., Tremblay, R. E., Boulerice, B., & Vitaro, F. (2000). Relative advantages of person- and variable-based approaches for predicting problem behaviors from kindergarten assessments. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 16(2), 145–168.
Hawes, D. J., & Dadds, M. R. (2007). Stability and malleability of callous - unemotional traits during treatment for childhood conduct problems. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 36(3), 347–355. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374410701444298.
Hawes, S. W., Byrd, A. L., Henderson, C. E., Gazda, R. L., Burke, J. D., Loeber, R., & Pardini, D. A. (2014). Refining the parent-reported Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits in boys with conduct problems. Psychological Assessment, 26(1), 256–266. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034718.
Hawley, P. H., Little, T. D., & Pasupathi, M. (2002). Winning friends and influencing peers: Strategies of peer influence in late childhood. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 26(5), 466–474. https://doi.org/10.1080/01650250143000427.
Hay, D. F., & Pawlby, S. (2003). Prosocial development in relation to children’s and mothers’ psychological problems. Child Development, 74(5), 1314–1327. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00609.
Hay, D. F., Payne, A., & Chadwick, A. (2004). Peer relations in childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(1), 84–108. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.0021-9630.2003.00308.x.
Hoza, B., Mrug, S., Gerdes, A. C., Hinshaw, S. P., Bukowski, W. M., Gold, J. A., et al. (2005). What aspects of peer relationships are impaired in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(3), 411–423. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.73.3.411.
Hunsley, J., & Mash, E. J. (2007). Evidence-based assessment. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 3, 29–51. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.3.022806.091419.
Johnston, C., Pelham, W. E., & Murphy, H. (1985). Peer relationships in ADDH and normal children: A developmental analysis of peer and teacher ratings. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 13(1), 89–100.
Katz, L. F., Hessler, D. M., & Annest, A. (2007). Domestic violence, emotional competence, and child adjustment. Social Development, 16(3), 513–538.
Keiley, M. K., Bates, J. E., Dodge, K. A., & Pettit, G. S. (2000). A cross-domain growth analysis: Externalizing and internalizing behaviors during 8 years of childhood. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 28(2), 161–179.
Kimonis, E. R., Frick, P. J., Boris, N. W., Smyke, A. T., Cornell, A. H., Farrell, J. M., & Zeanah, C. H. (2006). Callous-unemotional features, behavioral inhibition, and parenting: Independent predictors of aggression in a high-risk preschool sample. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 15(6), 741–752. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-006-9047-8.
Kornbluh, M., & Neal, J. W. (2016). Examining the many dimensions of children’s popularity: Interactions between aggression, prosocial behaviors, and gender. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 33, 62–80. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407514562562.
Lochman, J. E., & The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (1995). Screening of child behavior problems for prevention programs at school entry. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63(4), 549–559. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006X.63.4.549.
Loeber, R., Green, S. M., Lahey, B. B., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1991). Differences and similarities between children, mothers, and teachers as informants on disruptive child behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 19(1), 75–95. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00910566.
Mikami, A. Y., & Normand, S. (2015). The importance of social contextual factors in peer relationships of children with ADHD. Current Developmental Disorders Reports, 2(1), 30–37. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40474-014-0036-0.
Miller-Johnson, S., Coie, J. D., Maumary-Gremaud, A., Bierman, K., & The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2002). Peer rejection and aggression and early starter models of conduct disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30(3), 217–230 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2774087/pdf/nihms147869.pdf.
Moran, P., Rowe, R., Flach, C., Briskman, J., Ford, T., Maughan, B., et al. (2009). Predictive value of callous-unemotional traits in a large community sample. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48(11), 1079–1084. https://doi.org/10.1097/CHI.0b013e3181b766ab.
Muthén, B. O., & Muthén, L. K. (2000). Integrating person-centered and variable-centered analyses: growth mixture modeling with latent trajectory classes. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 24(6), 882–891.
Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2012). Mplus User’s Guide (7th ed.). Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.
Nylund, K. L., Asparouhov, T., & Muthén, B. O. (2007). Deciding on the number of classes in latent class analysis and growth mixture modeling: A Monte Carlo simulation study. Structural Equation Modeling, 14(4), 535–569. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705510701575396.
Offord, D. R., Boyle, M. H., Racine, Y., Szatmari, P., Fleming, J. E., Sanford, M., & Lipman, E. L. (1996). Integrating assessment data from multiple informants. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 35(8), 1078–1085. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004583-199608000-00019.
Okado, Y., & Bierman, K. L. (2014). Differential risk for late adolescent conduct problems and mood dysregulation among children with early externalizing behavior problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43(4), 735–747. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-014-9931-4.
Pardini, D. A., & Fite, P. J. (2010). Symptoms of conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and callous-unemotional traits as unique predictors of psychosocial maladjustment in boys: Advancing an evidence base for DSM-V. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(11), 1134–1144. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2010.07.010.
Pelham, W. E., & Bender, M. E. (1982). Peer relationships in hyperactive children. In K. D. Gadow & I. Bailer (Eds.), Advances in learning and behavioral disabilities (pp. 366–436). Greenwich: JAI Press.
Pelham, W. E., Milich, R., Murphy, D. A., & Murphy, H. A. (1989). Normative data on the IOWA Conners teacher rating scale. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 18(3), 259–262.
Polman, H., Orobio De Castro, B., Koops, W., Van Boxtel, H. W., & Merk, W. W. (2007). A meta-analysis of the distinction between reactive and proactive aggression in children and adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 35(4), 522–535. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-007-9109-4.
Poulin, F., & Boivin, M. (2000). Reactive and proactive aggression: evidence of a two-factor model. Psychological Assessment, 12(2), 115–122. https://doi.org/10.1037/1040-35184.108.40.206.
Price, J. M., & Dodge, K. A. (1989). Reactive and proactive aggression in childhood: Relations to peer status and social context dimensions. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 17(4), 455–471. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00915038.
Renk, K., & Phares, V. (2004). Cross-informant ratings of social competence in children and adolescents. Clinical Psychology Review, 24(2), 239–254. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2004.01.004.
Rubin, K. H., Bukowski, W. M., & Parker, J. (2006). Peer interactions, relationships, and groups. In N. Eisenberg (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: social, emotional, and personality development (pp. 571–645). New York: Wiley.
Song, J. H., Waller, R., Hyde, L. W., & Olson, S. L. (2016). Early callous-unemotional behavior, theory-of-mind, and a fearful/inhibited temperament predict externalizing problems in middle and late childhood. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 44(6), 1205–1215. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-015-0099-3.
Stone, L. L., Otten, R., Engels, R. C., Vermulst, A., & Janssens, J. M. (2010). Psychometric properties of the parent and teacher versions of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire for 4- to 12-Year-olds: a review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 13, 254–274. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-010-0071-2.
Useche, A. C., Sullivan, A. L., Merk, W., & de Castro, B. O. (2014). Relationships of aggression subtypes and peer status among aggressive boys in general education and emotional/behavioral disorder (EBD) classrooms. Exceptionality, 22(2), 111–128. https://doi.org/10.1080/09362835.2013.865529.
van Lier, P. A., & Koot, H. M. (2010). Developmental cascades of peer relations and symptoms of externalizing and internalizing problems from kindergarten to fourth-grade elementary school. Development and Psychopathology, 22(3), 569–582. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579410000283.
Verhulst, F. C., Koot, H. M., & van der Ende, J. (1994). Differential predictive value of parents’ and teachers’ reports of children’s problem behaviors: a longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 22(5), 531–546.
Viding, E., Simmonds, E., Petrides, K. V., & Frederickson, N. (2009). The contribution of callous-unemotional traits and conduct problems to bullying in early adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 50(4), 471–481. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.02012.x.
Waschbusch, D. A., & Willoughby, M. T. (2008). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and callous-unemotional traits as moderators of conduct problems when examining impairment and aggression in elementary school children. Aggressive Behavior, 34(2), 139–153. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.20224.
Waschbusch, D. A., Willoughby, M. T., & Pelham Jr., W. E. (1998). Criterion validity and the utility of reactive and proactive aggression: Comparisons to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and other measures of functioning. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27(4), 396–405. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15374424jccp2704_3.
Waschbusch, D. A., Porter, S., Carrey, N., Kazmi, S. O., Roach, K. A., & D’Amico, D. A. (2004). Investigation of the heterogeneity of disruptive behaviour in elementary-age children. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 36(2), 97–112. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0087221.
Waschbusch, D. A., Graziano, P. A., Willoughby, M. T., & Pelham, W. E. (2015). Classroom rule violations in elementary school students with callous-unemotional traits. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 23(3), 180–192. https://doi.org/10.1177/1063426614552903.
Wentzel, K., & McNamara, C. (1999). Interpersonal relationships, emotional distress, and prosocial behavior in middle school. Journal of Early Adolescence, 19(1), 114–125.
We are grateful to Marcos Sanches for his guidance regarding the analyses.
Dr. Andrade’s research is funded by a New Investigator Fellowship (Ontario Mental Health Foundation) and Career Development Award (Canadian Child Health Clinician-Scientist Program).
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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 was obtained from all parents and assent from all children to participate in the study.
About this article
Cite this article
Aitken, M., Henry, S. & Andrade, B.F. Distilling Heterogeneity among Children with Disruptive Behavior: Associations between Symptom Patterns and Social Functioning. J Abnorm Child Psychol 46, 1241–1252 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-017-0350-1
- Disruptive behavior
- Peer relationships
- Callous-unemotional traits
- Prosocial behavior