Reactive and proactive aggression in 13 to 15 year-old Singapore adolescents : differential psychosocial correlates, person-environment dynamics and adjustment outcomes.
Kom, Dennis M Y.
Date of Issue2012
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
This study is a multi-dimensional and longitudinal study set within the dynamic 13 to 15 year-old developmental window and in the Asian context. It sought to clarify the much-debated reactive-proactive aggression construct, from the angle of differential antecedents and adjustment outcomes, as well as to elucidate the risk and protective effects of dispositional factors (such as effortful control and psychopathic traits), parenting styles and peer social support in the manifestation of aggression. It also examined reactive and proactive aggressions’ unique predictive associations with empirically determined internalizing / externalizing syndromes. Additionally, gender effect was investigated to determine if any gender difference exists for these associations. An adolescent sample (M = 13.26 years, SD = 0.92), comprising 634 male and 559 female students, from four secondary schools was used for this study. This was a self-report, questionnaire-based study with a longitudinal design, with two points of data collection about one year apart. The findings from this study indicated that a two-factor structure model, comprising reactive aggression and proactive aggression as distinct components, fit the data better than a single-factor solution. In terms of differential associations with dispositional variables, reactive aggression was negatively associated with effortful control and positively associated with psychopathy, whereas proactive aggression was not significantly associated with effortful control but positively associated with psychopathy. Where social environmental influences were concerned, reactive aggression was uniquely and positively associated with authoritarian parenting, whereas proactive aggression was uniquely and positively associated with permissive parenting. Authoritative parenting, the ‘Guan’ parenting style (which reflect the unique aspects of Asian parental practices) and peer social support did not show any significant association with either reactive or proactive aggression. For gender effects, girls were found to be more susceptible to the differential in effortful control where manifestation of reactive aggression was concerned, whereas the boys seemed to be more susceptible to effortful control differential in the manifestation of proactive aggression. Boys were also found to be more susceptible than girls to the differential in psychopathy and permissive parenting in their manifestation of proactive aggression. Finally, for outcome predictions, there was no gender difference in both the concurrent as well as prospective predictions. Reactive aggression significantly predicted internalizing and externalizing syndromes, as well as delinquency, whereas proactive aggression significantly predicted externalizing syndromes and delinquency, but not internalizing syndromes. The pattern for prospective predictions was different, whereby reactive aggression significantly predicted externalizing syndromes and delinquent behaviors (positive associations), whereas none of proactive aggression’s predictions was significant. In terms of person-environment interaction effects on reactive and proactive aggression, only one mediation model (permissive parenting mediating the psychopathy - proactive aggression relationship) met all the conditions for significant mediation effect.