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Borderline personality features as a predictor of forms and functions of aggression during middle childhood: Examining the roles of gender and physiological reactivity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 July 2014

Adrienne M. Banny
University of Minnesota
Wan-Ling Tseng
National Institute of Mental Health
Dianna Murray-Close
University of Vermont
Clio E. Pitula
University of Minnesota
Nicki R. Crick
University of Minnesota
E-mail address:


The present longitudinal investigation examined borderline personality features as a predictor of aggression 1 year later. Moderation by physiological reactivity and gender was also explored. One hundred ninety-six children (M = 10.11 years, SD = 0.64) participated in a laboratory stress protocol in which their systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and skin conductance reactivity to recounting a relational stressor (e.g., threats to relationships or exclusion) were assessed. Teachers provided reports on subtypes of aggressive behavior (i.e., reactive relational, proactive relational, reactive physical, and proactive physical), and children completed a self-report measure of borderline personality features. Path analyses indicated that borderline personality features predicted increases in reactive relational aggression and proactive relational aggression among girls who evinced heightened physiological reactivity to interpersonal stress. In contrast, borderline personality features predicted decreases in proactive physical aggression in girls. Findings suggest that borderline personality features promote engagement in relationally aggressive behaviors among girls, particularly in the context of emotional dysregulation.

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