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Dev Psychopathol. 2009 Fall;21(4):1095-109. doi: 10.1017/S095457940999006X.

Developmental origins of early antisocial behavior.

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Department of Human Development and Family Studies, P.O. Box 26170, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170, USA.


Early antisocial behavior has its origins in childhood behavior problems, particularly those characterized by aggressive and destructive behavior. Deficits in self-regulation across multiple domains of functioning, from the physiological to the cognitive, are associated with early behavior problems, and may place children at greater risk for the development of later antisocial behavior. Data are presented from a longitudinal study of early self-regulation and behavior problems, the RIGHT Track Research Project, demonstrating that children at greatest risk for early and persistent problem behavior display patterns of physiological and emotional regulation deficits early in life. Parenting behavior and functioning have also been examined as predictors of trajectories of early problem behavior, and some data support the interaction of parenting and self-regulation as significant predictors of patterns of problematic behavior and ongoing problems with the regulation of affect. Peer relationships also affect and are affected by early self-regulation skills, and both may play a role in academic performance and subsequent school success. These data provide evidence that the social contexts of early family and peer relationships are important moderators of the more proximal mechanism of self-regulation, and both types of processes, social and biobehavioral, are likely implicated in early antisocial tendencies. Implications of these findings on self-regulation and early behavior problems are discussed in terms of future research and treatment approaches.

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