Objective: To examine pathways leading to specific types of early externalizing disorders.
Method: Longitudinal data were collected on 310 low-income, male subjects followed from infancy until age 6 years.
Results: Support across informants was found for the importance of the caregiving environment during infancy in relation to the development of externalizing disorders at school entry. Support was also found for the significance of early child factors, but this was limited to child behavior at home.
Conclusions: The results are consistent with social learning and attachment models, which suggest that severe conduct problems in early childhood are the result of deficits in the caregiving environment. Support was also found for Moffitt's hypothesis that children with the comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder-oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder pattern experience multiple child and psychosocial risk factors that begin during infancy.