Discrepancies Between Teacher- and Child- Reports of Proactive and Reactive Aggression: Does Prosocial Behavior Matter?

Abstract

Although limited, previous research has demonstrated that informants differ on their reports of childhood aggression subtypes (i.e., proactive and reactive). Further research is needed to understand how discrepancies between reporters may be moderated by other variables and how these associations may change over time. This study examined discrepancies between teacher and student reports of proactive and reactive aggression over an academic year (fall to spring) and evaluated whether teachers’ perceptions of prosocial behavior moderate discrepancies among informants. Regression analyses were conducted in a sample of elementary school-aged youth (N = 310, mean age = 9.34, SD = 0.93) and their teachers (N = 17) twice over an academic year. T-test analyses indicated no difference in the magnitude of reporters’ discrepancies across time. However, correlations indicated stronger associations between child and teacher reports of reactive aggression from Fall to Spring. Analyses indicated a positive association between informant reports of reactive, but not proactive, aggression. High levels of prosocial behavior increased informant agreement for reactive aggression across regression methods employed. However, prosocial behavior only increased informant agreement when difference scores in proactive aggression were evaluated. Findings suggest that discrepancies between teacher and child reports of aggression may minimally change over time and that teachers and students are more similar in their reports of reactive than proactive aggression, particularly when teacher perceptions of prosocial behavior are high. Implications and future directions are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Alexander, L. A., McKnight, P. E., Disabato, D. J., & Kashdan, T. B. (2017). When and how to use multiple informants to improve clinical assessments. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 39(4), 669–679. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1007/s10862-017-9607-9.

  2. Andreou, E. (2006). Social preference, perceived popularity and social intelligence: Relations to overt and relational aggression. School Psychology International, 27(3), 339–351. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1177/0143034306067286.

  3. Bandura, A. (1973). Aggression: A social learning analysis. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Barnes, A., Cross, D., Lester, L., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., & Monks, H. (2012). The invisibility of covert bullying among students: Challenges for school intervention. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 22(2), 206–226. https://doi.org/10.1017/jgc.2012.27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Berkowitz, L. (1993). Aggression: Its causes, consequences, and control. New York: McGraw Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Boxer, P., Tisak, M. S., & Goldstein, S. E. (2004). Is it bad to be good? An exploration of aggressive and prosocial behavior subtypes in adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 33(2), 91–100. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JOYO.0000013421.02015.ef.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Brown, S., Fite, P. J., & Poquiz, J. (2016). Moderating effects of gender on outcomes associated with stressful life events among elementary school-age youth. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 47(4), 593–602. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-015-0592-5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Card, N., & Little, T. (2006). Proactive and reactive aggression in childhood and adolescence: A meta-analysis of differential relations with psychosocial adjustment. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 30(5), 466–480.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Chen, G. H., Zhang, W. X., & Wang, S. Q. (2009). Agreement among different informants over ratings of adolescent externalizing behaviors. Acta Psychologica Sinica.

  10. Cillessen, A. H. N., & Mayeux, L. (2004). From censure to reinforcement: Developmental changes in the association between aggression and social status. Child Development, 75(1), 147–163. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00660.x.

  11. Crick, N. R., & Dodge, K. A. (1996). Social information-processing mechanisms on reactive and proactive aggression. Child Development, 67(3), 993–1002. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.2307/1131875.

  12. Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66(3), 710–722. https://doi.org/10.2307/1131945.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., Monks, H., Lester, L., & Thomas, L. (2009). Australian covert bullying prevalence study (ACBPS). Canberra: Department of Education, Employment and Work Relations.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Dane, A. V., & Marini, Z. A. (2014). Overt and relational forms of reactive aggression in adolescents: Relations with temperamental reactivity and self-regulation. Personality and Individual Differences, 60, 60–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2013.12.021.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Day, D. M., Bream, L. A., & Pal, A. (1992). Proactive and reactive aggression: An analysis of subtypes based on teacher perceptions. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 21(3), 210–217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. De Los Reyes, A. (2011). Introduction to the special section: More than measurement error: Discovering meaning behind informant discrepancies in clinical assessments of children and adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 40(1), 1–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. De Los Reyes, A., & Kazdin, A. E. (2004). Measuring informant discrepancies in clinical child research. Psychological Assessment, 16(3), 330–334.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. De Los Reyes, A., & Kazdin, A. E. (2005). Informant discrepancies in the assessment of childhood psychopathology: A critical review, theoretical framework, and recommendations for further study. Psychological Bulletin, 131(4), 483–509.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. De Los Reyes, A., Henry, D. B., Tolan, P. H., & Wakschlag, L. S. (2009). Linking informant discrepancies to observed variations in young children’s disruptive behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37(5), 637–652.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. De Los Reyes, A., Alfano, C. A., & Beidel, D. C. (2010). The relations among measurements of informant discrepancies within a multisite trial of treatments for childhood social phobia. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(3), 395–404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Dodge, K. A. (1991). The structure and function of reactive and proactive aggression. In D. J. Pepler & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), The development and treatment of childhood aggression (pp. 201–218). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc..

    Google Scholar 

  22. Dodge, K. A., & Coie, J. D. (1987). Social information-processing factors in reactive and proactive aggression in children’s peer groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 1146–1158.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Ehrlich, K. B., Cassidy, J., & Dykas, M. J. (2011). Reporter discrepancies among parents, adolescents, and peers: Adolescent attachment and informant depressive symptoms as explanatory factors. Child Development, 82(3), 999-1012. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01530.x.

  24. Eisenberg, N., & Fabes, R. A. (1998). Prosocial development. In W. Damon (series Ed.) and N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (5th ed., pp. 701-778). New York: Wiley.

  25. Eivers, A. R., Brendgen, M., Vitaro, F., & Borge, A. I. (2012). Concurrent and longitudinal links between children's and their friends’ antisocial and prosocial behavior in preschool. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(1), 137–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Elliott, S. N., Busse, R. T., & Gresham, F. M. (1993). Behavior rating scales: Issues of use and development. School Psychology Review, 22(2), 313–321. Retrieved from http://www2.lib.ku.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.www2.lib.ku.edu/docview/618350576?accountid=14556.

  27. Epkins, C. C. (1993). A preliminary comparison of teacher ratings and child self-report of depression, anxiety, and aggression in inpatient and elementary school samples. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 21(6), 649-661. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1007/BF00916448.

  28. Erdley, C. A., & Asher, S. R. (1998). Linkages between children's beliefs about the legitimacy of aggression and their behavior. Social Development, 7(3), 321-339. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1111/1467-9507.00070

  29. Eron, L. D., & Huesmann, L. R. (1984). The relation of prosocial behavior to the development of aggression and psychopathology. Aggressive Behavior, 10(3), 201-211. https://doi.org/10.1002/1098-2337(1984)10:3<201::AID-AB2480100304>3.0.CO;2-S

  30. Fite, P. J., Stoppelbein, L., Greening, L., & Gaertner, A. E. (2009). Further validation of a measure of proactive and reactive aggression within a clinical child population. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 40(3), 367–382.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Fite, P. J., Rathert, J. L., Grassetti, S. N., Gaertner, A. E., Campion, S., Fite, J. L., & Vitulano, M. L. (2011). Longitudinal investigation of the link between proactive and reactive aggression and disciplinary actions in an after-school care program. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 33(2), 205–214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Fite, P. J., Wimsatt, A. R., Elkins, S., & Grassetti, S. N. (2012). Contextual influences of proactive and reactive subtypes of aggression. Child Indicators Research, 5(1), 123–133.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Fite, P. J., Poquiz, J., Cooley, J. L., Stoppelbein, L., Becker, S. P., Luebbe, A. M., & Greening, L. (2016). Risk factors associated with proactive and reactive aggression in a child psychiatric inpatient sample. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 38(1), 56-65. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-015-9503-0

  34. Fite, P. J., Evans, S. C., Pederson, C. A., & Tampke, E. C. (2017). Functions of aggression and disciplinary actions among elementary school-age youth. In Child & Youth Care Forum (Vol. 46, no. 6, pp. 825-839). Springer US.

  35. Gray, J. A. (1972). The psychology of fear and stress. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Greening, L., Stoppelbein, L., Luebbe, A., & Fite, P. J. (2010). Aggression and the risk for suicidal behaviors among children. Suicide and Life-threatening Behavior, 40(4), 337–345.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Happonen, M., Pulkkinen, L., Kaprio, J., Van, D. M., Viken, R. J., & Rose, R. J. (2002). The heritability of depressive symptoms: Multiple informants and multiple measures. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43(4), 471–480. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1111/1469-7610.00038

  38. Hawley, P. H. (2003). Prosocial and coercive configurations of resource control in early adolescence: A case for the well-adapted machiavellian. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 49(3), 279-309. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1353/mpq.2003.0013.

  39. Hay, D. F. (1994). Prosocial development. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines., 35, 29–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Hayes, A. F. (2012). PROCESS: A versatile computational tool for observed variable mediation, moderation, and conditional process modeling [White paper]. Retrieved from http://www.afhayes.com/public/process2012.pdf.

  41. Huesmann, L. R., Eron, L. D., Lefkowitz, M. M., & Walder, L. O. (1984). Stability of aggression over time and generations. Developmental Psychology, 20(6), 1120-1134. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1037/0012-1649.20.6.1120.

  42. Huesmann, L. R., Guerra, N. G., Miller, L. S., & Zelli, A. (1992). The role of social norms in the development of aggressive behavior. In A. Fraczek & H. Zumkley (Eds.), Socialization and aggression (pp. 139–152). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  43. IBM Corp. Released (2017). IBM SPSS statistics for windows, version 25.0. Armonk: IBM Corp.

  44. Jensen, P. S., Rubio-Stipec, M., Canino, G., Bird, H. R., Dulcan, M. K., Schwab-Stone, M., & Lahey, B. B. (1999). Parent and child contributions to diagnosis of mental disorder: Are both informants always necessary? Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 38(12), 1569-1579. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1097/00004583-199912000-00019.

  45. Johnson, K., & Hannon, M. D. (2014). Measuring the relationship between parent, teacher, and student problem behavior reports and academic achievement: Implications for school counselors. Professional school counseling, 18(1), 2156759X0001800109.

  46. Krahé, B., & Möller, I. (2011). Links between self-reported media violence exposure and teacher ratings of aggression and prosocial behavior among German adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 34(2), 279–287.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Kupersmidt, J. B., & Patterson, C. J. (1991). Childhood peer rejection, aggression, withdrawal, and perceived competence as predictors of self-reported behavior problems in preadolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 19(4), 427-449. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1007/BF00919087.

  48. Kuppens, S., Grietens, H., Onghena, P., & Michiels, D. (2009). A longitudinal study of childhood social behaviour: Inter-informant agreement, inter-context agreement, and social preference linkages. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26(6–7), 769–792. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407509347929.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Laird, R. D., & De Los Reyes, A. (2013). Testing informant discrepancies as predictors of early adolescent psychopathology: Why difference scores cannot tell you what you want to know and how polynomial regression may. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41(1), 1–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Laird, R. D., & LaFleur, L. K. (2016). Disclosure and monitoring as predictors of mother–adolescent agreement in reports of early adolescent rule-breaking behavior. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 45(2), 188–200.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Laird, R. D., & Weems, C. F. (2011). The equivalence of regression models using difference scores and models using separate scores for each informant: Implications for the study of informant discrepancies. Psychological Assessment, 23(2), 388–397.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Larson, R. W., Moneta, G., Richards, M. H., & Wilson, S. (2002). Continuity, stability, and change in daily emotional experience across adolescence. Child Development, 73(4), 1151-1165. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1111/1467-8624.00464.

  53. Ledingham, J. E., Younger, A., Schwartzman, A. E., & Bergeron, G. (1982). Agreement among teacher, peer, and self-ratings of children's aggression, withdrawal, and likability. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 10(3), 363-372. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1007/BF00912327.

  54. Martin, K., Huebner, E. S., & Valois, R. F. (2008). Does life satisfaction predict victimization experiences in adolescence? Psychology in the Schools, 45(8), 705–714. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.20336.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Mathieson, L. C., & Crick, N. R. (2010). Reactive and proactive subtypes of relational and physical aggression in middle childhood: Links to concurrent and longitudinal adjustment. School Psychology Review, 39(4), 601–611. Retrieved from http://www2.lib.ku.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.www2.lib.ku.edu/docview/858285969?accountid=14556.

  56. McGuire, W. J. (1969). Suspiciousness of experimenter's intent. Artifact in behavioral research: Academic Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  57. McMahon, S. D., Todd, N. R., Martinez, A., Coker, C., Sheu, C., Washburn, J., & Shah, S. (2013). Aggressive and prosocial behavior: Community violence, cognitive, and behavioral predictors among urban African American youth. American Journal of Community Psychology, 51(3-4), 407-421. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1007/s10464-012-9560-4.

  58. Moore, C. C., Shoulberg, E. K., & Murray-Close, D. (2012). The protective role of teacher preference for at-risk children's social status. Aggressive Behavior, 38(6), 481-493. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1002/ab.21446.

  59. Obsuth, I., Eisner, M. P., Malti, T., & Ribeaud, D. (2015). The developmental relation between aggressive behaviour and prosocial behaviour: A 5-year longitudinal study. BMC Psychology, 3(1), 16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Pellegrini, A. D., Bartini, M., & Brooks, F. (1999). School bullies, victims, and aggressive victims: Factors relating to group affiliation and victimization in early adolescence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 216–222.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Persson, G. E. B. (2005). Developmental perspectives on prosocial and aggressive motives in preschoolers' peer interactions. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 29(1), 80-91. https://doi.org/10.1080/01650250444000423

  62. Poulin, F., & Boivin, M. (2000). Reactive and proactive aggression: Evidence of a two-factor model. Psychological Assessment, 12(2), 115–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Prinstein, M. J., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2003). Forms and functions of adolescent peer aggression associated with high levels of peer status. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 49(3), 310–342. https://doi.org/10.1353/mpq.2003.0015.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Schwartz, D., Dodge, K. A., Coie, J. D., Hubbard, J. A., Cillessen, A. H. N., Lemerise, E. A., & Bateman, H. (1998). Social-cognitive and behavioral correlates of aggression and victimization in boys’ play groups. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 26, 431–440.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Spivak, A. L., & Farran, D. C. (2012). First-grade teacher behaviors and Children's Prosocial actions in classrooms. Early Education and Development, 23(5), 623–639.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Sternberg, K. J., Lamb, M. E., & Dawud-Noursi, S. (1998). Using multiple informants to understand domestic violence and its effects. In G. W. Holden, R. Geffner & E. N. Jouriles (Eds.), Children exposed to marital violence: Theory, research, and applied issues; children exposed to marital violence: Theory, research, and applied issues (pp. 121-156, Chapter xv, 450 pages) American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1037/10257-004.

  67. Sullivan, T. N., Garthe, R. C., Goncy, E. A., Carlson, M. M., & Behrhorst, K. L. (2017). Longitudinal relations between beliefs supporting aggression, anger regulation, and dating aggression among early adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(5), 982–994. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0569-0.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  68. Thomson, N. D., & Centifanti, L. C. (2018). Proactive and reactive aggression subgroups in typically developing children: The role of executive functioning, psychophysiology, and psychopathy. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 49(2), 197–208.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Tomada, G., & Schneider, B. H. (1997). Relational aggression, gender, and peer acceptance: Invariance across culture, stability over time, and concordance among informants. Developmental Psychology, 33(4), 601-609. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.1037/0012-1649.33.4.601.

  70. U. S. Census Bureau. (2010). State and County QuickFacts. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov.

  71. Vaillancourt, T., Brittain, H., Haltigan, J. D., Ostrov, J. M., & Muir, C. (2018). Cortisol moderates the relation between physical peer victimization and physical aggression in preschoolers attending high- quality child care: Evidence of differential susceptibility across informants. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 64(1), 101-134. http://dx.doi.org.www2.lib.ku.edu/10.13110/merrpalmquar1982.64.1.0101.

  72. Waschbusch, D. A., & Willoughby, M. T. (1998). Criterion validity and the utility of reactive and proactive aggression: Comparisons to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and other measures of functioning. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27(4), 396–405.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Weems, C. F., Taylor, L. K., Marks, A. B., & Varela, R. E. (2010). Anxiety sensitivity in childhood and adolescence: Parent reports and factors that influence associations with child reports. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 34(4), 303–315.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Williford, A., Fite, P. J., Johnson-Motoyama, M., & Frazer, A. L. (2015). Acculturative dissonance and risks for proactive and reactive aggression among Latino/a adolescents: Implications for culturally relevant prevention and interventions. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 36(6), 405–418.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This project was supported in part by the University of Kansas Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program and the University of Kansas Center for Undergraduate Research.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sofia Mildrum Chana.

Ethics declarations

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the author’s institutional review board and with the 1994 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mildrum Chana, S., Tampke, E.C. & Fite, P.J. Discrepancies Between Teacher- and Child- Reports of Proactive and Reactive Aggression: Does Prosocial Behavior Matter?. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 43, 70–83 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-020-09823-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • Proactive aggression
  • Reactive aggression
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Informant discrepancies