Development and Psychopathology

Regular Articles

Predictors and sequelae of trajectories of physical aggression in school-age boys and girls

Susan B. Campbella1 c1, Susan Spiekera2, Nathan Vandergrifta3, Jay Belskya4, Margaret Burchinala3 and THE NICHD EARLY CHILD CARE RESEARCH NETWORK

a1 University of Pittsburgh

a2 University of Washington

a3 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

a4 Birkbeck University of London


Teacher-rated trajectories of physical aggression in boys and girls from first through sixth grade were examined using data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. In separate analyses, four trajectories were identified in boys and three in girls. Higher levels of aggression in both boys and girls were related to greater sociodemographic risk and higher maternal harshness in the preschool years; lower levels of observed maternal sensitivity during early childhood also predicted higher trajectories of aggression among girls. Trajectory groups also differed on a range of social and academic adjustment outcomes in sixth grade, with the most aggressive children and even moderately aggressive children evidencing some difficulties in adjustment. Patterns and levels of aggression in boys and girls are discussed as are their predictors and consequences.


This study is directed by a Steering Committee and supported by NICHD through a cooperative agreement (U10), which calls for scientific collaboration between the grantees and the NICHD staff. The content is solely the responsibility of the named authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the EKS National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institutes of Health, or individual members of the Network. Current members of the Steering Committee of the NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, listed in alphabetical order, are Jay Belsky (Birkbeck University of London), Cathryn Booth-LaForce (University of Washington), Robert H. Bradley (University of Arkansas at Little Rock), Celia A. Brownell (University of Pittsburgh), Margaret Burchinal (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Susan B. Campbell (University of Pittsburgh), Elizabeth Cauffman (University of California, Irvine), Alison Clarke-Stewart (University of California, Irvine), Martha Cox (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Robert Crosnoe (University of Texas, Austin), James A. Griffin (NICHD Project Scientist and Scientific Coordinator), Bonnie Halpern-Felsher (University of California, San Francisco), Willard Hartup (University of Minnesota), Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek (Temple University), Daniel Keating (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), Bonnie Knoke (RTI International), Tama Leventhal (Tufts University), Kathleen McCartney (Harvard University), Vonnie C. McLoyd (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Fred Morrison (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), Philip Nader (University of California, San Diego), Marion O'Brien (University of North Carolina, Greensboro), Margaret Tresch Owen (University of Texas, Dallas), Ross Parke (University of California, Riverside), Robert Pianta (University of Virginia), Kim M. Pierce (University of Wisconsin–Madison), A. Vijaya Rao (RTI International), Glenn I. Roisman (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign), Susan Spieker (University of Washington), Laurence Steinberg (Temple University), Elizabeth Susman (Pennsylvania State University), Deborah Lowe Vandell (University of California, Irvine), and Marsha Weinraub (Temple University).