Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 20–32 | Cite as

Testing a Higher Order Model of Internalizing and Externalizing Behavior: The Role of Aggression Subtypes

Original Article


This study assessed how the forms and functions of aggression fit into a higher order model of internalizing and externalizing behavior, for children in early childhood (N = 332, M age = 47.11 months, SD = 7.32). The lower order internalizing factors were depressed affect, anxious-fearfulness, and asocial behavior (i.e., social withdrawal) and the lower order externalizing factors were deception and hyperactivity. The forms and functions of aggression were crossed to create four factors: reactive relational, reactive physical, proactive relational, and proactive physical aggression. Seven confirmatory factor models were tested. Results supported a two-factor externalizing model where reactive and proactive relational aggression and deception loaded on one externalizing factor and reactive and proactive physical aggression and hyperactivity loaded on another externalizing factor.


Early childhood Factor analysis Relational aggression Physical aggression Child psychopathology 



We appreciate Dr. Craig R. Colder for providing extensive feedback on the manuscript and statistical models. We also thank Dr. Leonard J. Simms for providing feedback on the proposed models. We thank the UB Social Development Lab for their assistance and special thanks to Dr. Kimberly Kamper-DeMarco and Sarah Blakely-McClure for methodological assistance and coordination of the data collection. We would also like to thank Matthew Scalco for statistical consultation. We are grateful to the families, teachers, and administrators of participating schools. Preparation of this manuscript was facilitated by a grant from the National Science Foundation to the second author (BCS-1450777).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA

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