Proactive and reactive aggression in referred children and adolescents

Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2004 Apr;74(2):129-36. doi: 10.1037/0002-9432.74.2.129.


Investigating different types of aggression is important to facilitate a better understanding of excessive maladaptive aggression in referred youth. Using regression analysis, the authors investigated demographic, historical, diagnostic, and treatment correlates of proactive aggression and reactive aggression in a heterogeneous population (N = 323) of psychiatrically referred youths. Ratings of proactive and reactive aggression significantly correlated with more established measures of aggression. Results suggest the importance of hyperactive/impulsive behavior, disruptive behavior disorders, and self-reported hostility in youths with both reactive and proactive aggression. Substance use disorders, a family history of substance abuse, and family violence were specifically associated with proactive aggression. Younger age and a history of abuse were correlated with reactive aggression. Implications for clinical interventions and future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Residential Treatment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires