Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 575–590 | Cite as

Predicting Growth Curves of Externalizing Behavior Across the Preschool Years

  • Elizabeth B. OwensEmail author
  • Daniel S. Shaw


Hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine 2 facets of externalizing behavior: its level at age 6 and its rate of change from age 2 to 6 among 299 boys from low-income families. As for age-6 level of externalizing behavior, maternal depressive symptoms, maternal acceptance of child behavior, parental conflict, and the interaction between maternal acceptance and maternal depressive symptoms were each uniquely associated with this outcome. Regarding the interaction, maternal acceptance was associated with externalizing behavior primarily when maternal depressive symptoms were low, and maternal depressive symptoms were related to externalizing behavior only when maternal acceptance was high. Externalizing behavior gradually decreased between ages 2 and 6; interactions between infant negative emotionality and maternal depressive symptoms and between parental conflict and maternal acceptance were associated with rate of change. Plots suggested a protective effect of low infant negative emotionality when maternal depressive symptoms were high and a larger effect of maternal acceptance when parental conflict was low compared to when it was high. Results add to a small but growing literature regarding predictors of continuity and change in early child externalizing behavior.

growth curves externalizing preschool 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Human DevelopmentUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh

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