Development and Psychopathology



Response decision processes and externalizing behavior problems in adolescents


REID GRIFFITH FONTAINE a1c1, VIRGINIA SALZER BURKS a2 and KENNETH A. DODGE a1
a1 Duke University
a2 Vanderbilt University

Abstract

Externalizing behavior problems of 124 adolescents were assessed across Grades 7–11. In Grade 9, participants were also assessed across social-cognitive domains after imagining themselves as the object of provocations portrayed in six videotaped vignettes. Participants responded to vignette-based questions representing multiple processes of the response decision step of social information processing. Phase 1 of our investigation supported a two-factor model of the response evaluation process of response decision (response valuation and outcome expectancy). Phase 2 showed significant relations between the set of these response decision processes, as well as response selection, measured in Grade 9 and (a) externalizing behavior in Grade 9 and (b) externalizing behavior in Grades 10–11, even after controlling externalizing behavior in Grades 7–8. These findings suggest that on-line behavioral judgments about aggression play a crucial role in the maintenance and growth of aggressive response tendencies in adolescence.


Correspondence:
c1 Reid Griffith Fontaine, Duke University, Psychology Department, Box 90085, Durham, NC 27708; E-mail: rgf2@duke.edu.