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J Abnorm Psychol. 1997 Feb;106(1):37-51.

Reactive and proactive aggression in school children and psychiatrically impaired chronically assaultive youth.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA.


The authors proposed that reactively aggressive and proactively aggressive types of antisocial youth would differ in developmental histories, concurrent adjustment, and social information-processing patterns. In Study 1, 585 boys and girls classified into groups called reactive aggressive, proactive aggressive, pervasively aggressive (combined type), and nonaggressive revealed distinct profiles. Only the reactive aggressive groups demonstrated histories of physical abuse and early onset of problems, adjustment problems in peer relations, and inadequate encoding and problem-solving processing patterns. Only the proactive aggressive groups demonstrated a processing pattern of anticipating positive outcomes for aggressing. In Study 2, 50 psychiatrically impaired chronically violent boys classified as reactively violent or proactively violent demonstrated differences in age of onset of problem behavior, adjustment problems, and processing problems.

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