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Predicting aggressive behavior in the third year from infant reactivity and regulation as moderated by maternal behavior

  • Susan C. Crockenberg (a1), Esther M. Leerkes (a2) and Patricia S. BÁrrig JÓ (a1)


The degree to which infant attention behaviors, together with infant reactivity to frustrating events, predict aggressive behavior at 2.5 years, and the moderating effect of maternal behavior were tested with 64 low-risk mothers and infants. Mothers rated infant negative reactivity at 5 months and aggressive behavior and maternal trait anger at 2.5 years; infant and maternal behaviors were observed at 6 months. Based on hierarchical multiple regressions, infant attention to frustrating events at 6 months positively predicted aggressive behavior, whereas looking away from frustrating events was associated with less aggressive behavior for girls only. High reactivity to limits predicted aggressive behavior only when mothers encouraged infant attention to the frustrating event, suggesting that maternal behavior amplifies developmental pathways associated with infant temperament.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Susan C. Crockenberg, Psychology Department, Dewey Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405; E-mail:


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We are grateful to the participating families, the Visiting Nurse Association, Beginnings, and Primetime for help recruiting and to James Long for his technical assistance. We are also grateful to the students who coded videotapes: Lisa Badanes, Lynne Babchuck, Gina Berrera, Emma Burrous, Michelle Clancy, Kerstin Grieshaber, Amanda Heldt, Erica Hendalion, Heather Kline, Shamila Lekka, Regina Miller, Kerry Modry, Julie Mulhern, Jeannine Pablo, Anna Popick, Jessica Scharf, Betsy Sprague, Allyson Stern, Samantha Thomas, Emily Vilardo, and Amanda Werner.



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Predicting aggressive behavior in the third year from infant reactivity and regulation as moderated by maternal behavior

  • Susan C. Crockenberg (a1), Esther M. Leerkes (a2) and Patricia S. BÁrrig JÓ (a1)


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