Aggression can be contagious : longitudinal associations between proactive aggression and reactive aggression among young twins
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofAggressive behavior ; vol. 41, no. 5, pp. 455-466.
The present study examined sibling influence over reactive and proactive aggression in a sample of 452 same‐sex twins (113 male dyads, 113 female dyads). Between and within siblings influence processes were examined as a function of relative levels of parental coercion and hostility to test the hypothesis that aggression contagion between twins occurs only among dyads who experience parental coerciveness. Teacher reports of reactive and proactive aggression were collected for each twin in kindergarten (M = 6.04 years; SD = 0.27) and in first grade (M = 7.08 years; SD = 0.27). Families were divided into relatively low, average, and relatively high parental coercion‐hostility groups on the basis of maternal reports collected when the children were 5 years old. In families with relatively high levels of parental coercion‐hostility, there was evidence of between‐sibling influence, such that one twin's reactive aggression at age 6 predicted increases in the other twin's reactive aggression from ages 6 to 7, and one twin's proactive aggression at age 6 predicted increases in the other twin's proactive aggression from ages 6 to 7. There was also evidence of within‐sibling influence such that a child's level of reactive aggression at age 6 predicted increases in the same child's proactive aggression at age 7, regardless of parental coercion‐hostility. The findings provide new information about the etiology of reactive and proactive aggression and individual differences in their developmental interplay.