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Cognit Ther Res. 2012 Dec;36(6):776-787. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Cognitive Distortions and Self-Regulatory Personality Traits Associated with Proactive and Reactive Aggression in Early Adolescence.

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Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


This study investigated mechanisms behind proactive and reactive aggression, by examining whether four types of self-serving cognitive distortions and the personality traits agreeableness and conscientiousness differently predicted proactive and reactive aggression. Self-report questionnaires and a peer nominations method were administered to 173 sixth grade children (age 10-13) of regular elementary schools in the Netherlands. Negative binomial regression analyses showed that proactive aggression was predicted by self-centered and disagreeable tendencies, whereas reactive aggression was predicted by the misattribution of blame to others and the self-regulatory aspects of agreeableness and conscientiousness. Findings emphasize the need to differentiate proactive and reactive aggression in order to accurately predict, prevent and treat aggressive behaviors in childhood.

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