The development of boys’ aggressive behaviour – A process person context time model
Authors: Diane Joyce Dennis
Bronfenbrenner’s Process-Person-Context-Time model was used to examine the relationships among the process of negative parenting, the person characteristics of child temperament and early aggressive behaviour and the contexts of family income (in)adequacy and maternal depression from infancy to school entry and their effects on the outcome of aggressive behaviour in boys at school entry. The sample included 361 boys in two-parent families who participated in the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY). Structural equation modeling was used with a repeated measures longitudinal design. The model explained 43% of the variance in boys’ aggressive behaviour at school age. The results indicated that, by preschool age, boys’ and mothers’ behaviours are well established, and that process, person, and context variables all influence the persistence of boys’ aggressive behaviour. The strength of the effects of these variables increased with their proximity to the developing child and decreased over time. By school age, concurrent effects were not significant. The addition of the contextual variables resulted in ill-fitting models. Modification indices suggested the ill fit was localized in modeling the persistence of maternal depression, and not in the relationship between maternal depression and the other variables in the model. Modification indices also suggested there may be reciprocal effects between boys’ aggressive behaviour and both negative parenting and maternal depression, but this was not tested. Future research using a cross-lagged panel design could clarify these relationships. This study contributes to a growing body of research on the development of aggressive behaviour in children and underscores the importance of examining the contribution of the multiple levels of process, person, context, and time to the development of aggressive behaviour. findings of this study provide evidence that the effects of proximal processes and proximal contexts on the development of boys’ aggressive behaviour are strongest in infancy and toddlerhood, and their consequences extend through to school entry. Initiating prevention and intervention efforts in early childhood that provide parents-to-be and parents of young children with practical direction in ways to engage in positive and responsive interactions with their children would do more to reduce the development of aggressive behaviour in children than would later interventions aimed at changing entrenched behaviours in both parents and children.
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