Predictors of Child Aggression: A Structural Equation Model


  • Temperament: Aspects of personality that are innate and observable from infancy. Dimensions: anger, sadness, activity level, inhibitory control, shyness.
  • Generally considered to have biological or genetic basis. 
  • Foundation for later personality and predicts behavioral, psychological and educational outcomes.


  • 201 typically developing twin siblings (ages 2.5 – 5.5) and their mothers (mean age = 34.13, SD = 5.13) in the DFW metroplex
  • Males = 104, mean age = 3.86, SD = 1.04
  • 84% Caucasian, 11% multiracial, 4% black, 3% Asian

Anger measures

  • Lab-TAB “End of the Line”: Children are presented with an interesting toy, toy is then removed
  • Independent ratings of facial and bodily anger and sadness, latency to resume play, latency to resume positive affect

Inhibitory control measures

  • Lab-TAB “gift” episode: child is given a gift & instructed to wait to open it. Measures child’s ability to inhibit automatic responses

Post-visit Ratings of Child Temperament Traits

  • 3 global temperament items rated on a Likert scale from 1 (minimal/rare occurrence) to 5 (intense/frequent occurrence): “anger”, “hyperactivity” and “impulsivity”

Emotional-Activity-Sociability-Shyness Scale (EAS):  

  • 20-item questionnaire, activity level & emotionality subscale

Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL): 

  • 99-item questionnaire regarding child’s behavior & socio-emotional functioning & behavior problems
  • Aggressive and Emotional reactivity sub-scales

Toddler Behavior Activity Questionnaire-Revised (TBAQ-R): 

  • 120-item questionnaire, parent rates behaviors observed in common situations in past month on a scale of 1 (never) to 7 (always)
  • Anger, activity level and inhibitory control subscales used

Maternal mental health measures

  • Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety: 40 item questionnaire, assesses current states of anxiety and a general tendency towards anxiety 
  • Center for Epidemiological  Studies Depression Scale: 20-item questionnaire, refers to feelings & behaviors experienced in the past week such as “I felt that everything I did was an effort


    1.  Emotional reactivity is a mediator of the relationship between anger, inhibitory control and aggression. 
      • Anger and emotional reactivity positively predicted aggression
      • IC did not negatively predict aggression
      • The 3 temperament factors together accounted for 96% of the variance in aggression
  1. Maternal education moderated the relationship between child anger and behavior problems. High maternal education was protective factor for anger prone children.