Developmental pathways to antisocial behavior in early-adolescence: examining changes in aggression and peer exclusion through childhood
This study examined the influence of childhood aggression, peer exclusion and associating with deviant peers on the development of antisocial behavior in early adolescence. To gain a stronger understanding of how these factors are associated with antisocial behavior and delinquency, multiple alternative pathways were examined based on additive, mediation and incidental models. A parallel process growth model was specified to assess whether early childhood aggression and peer exclusion (in 1st grade) and intra-individual increases in aggressive behaviors and exclusion through childhood (grades 1 to 6) are predictive of associating with deviant peers (in 7th grade) and antisocial behavior (in 8th grade). Based on a sample of 383 children (193 girls and 190 boys), results showed the strongest support for an additive effects model in which early childhood aggression, increases in aggression, increases in peer exclusion and associating with more deviant peers all predicted antisocial behavior. These findings have implications for how children's psychological adjustment is impacted by their behavioral propensities and peer relational context and the importance of examining developmental processes within and between children over time.