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


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.

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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.

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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

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