DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2011.00294

Acta Psychologica Sinica (心理学报) 2011/43:3 PP.294-307

A Multitrait-multimethod Analysis of Aggressive Behaviors in Middle Childhood

Literature indicates that there existed only low agreement among different informants in the assessment of children’s aggressive behavior (Karver, 2006; Ladd & Kochenderfer-Ladd, 2002), which reflects the fact that each informant offers his or her unique perspective on the target children’s behavior (Achenbach, 1995; Loeber et al., 2000). With the awareness of the disadvantages inherent in the assessment using single informant, MTMM (multitrait-multimethod) design is becoming increasingly popular in research on human development in recent years. The present study investigated the convergent and discriminant validities of MTMM data on children’s aggression during middle childhood and the extent to which the validities of assessment varied between peers and teachers as informants. The participants were 2695 children in their middle childhood (mean age = 10.06 ± 0.54 years) with approximately equal number of boys (51.87%) and girls (48.13%) and the children’s head teachers (n = 50). These students and teachers were from 50 classrooms in 14 schools in Jinan, capital city of Shandong Province of China. The MTMM data on children’s three types of aggression (i.e. physical, verbal and relational) was obtained from two types of informants (peer and teacher) and via three types of methods of data collection (i.e. peer nomination, peer rating and teacher rating). For peer nomination, the Children’s Social Behavior Scale (Crick, 1997) was used and the children were asked to nominate up to three children who best fitted the descriptions of items of physical and relational aggression from within their class. Information about children’s physical, verbal, and relational aggressions was also obtained via peer rating, in which children rated their peers on a 12-item Aggressive Behavior Questionnaire. In addition, teacher rating was conducted in which the head teacher of each of the participating classroom rated all the children in his/her class on the three types of aggression using a modified version of the aggressive behavior scale (Crick et al., 1997). All measures possessed acceptable reliabilities in this study. Moderate to high correlations existed between the same trait measured using different methods (rs = 0.35 to 0.74). The CFA analysis indicated that all of the loadings of trait factors in the MTMM model were significant, and that the MTMM model better fitted the data than did the method model, reflecting the fact that the indicators measured via different methods concurrently converged on the common trait factors and increased the model fitting. High correlations were found between the different traits measured using the same method (rs = 0.74 to 0.92). Results of the CFA analysis demonstrated high loadings of each method factors of MTMM model (λs > 0.60), indicating a low discriminant validity of each of three assessment methods in assessing the three types of aggression. In MTMM model, the loadings of the peer-reported indicators on the aggression factors were higher and companied with smaller errors as compared with those of the teacher-reported indicators. In the two-order model, the method factors of peer report explained a larger proportion of the variations of the second-order factor of aggression than did that of teacher report. Putting together, these results suggested that peer report (peer rating and peer nomination) served as more valid assessment of children’s aggression than teacher rating. Moreover, the method factor of peer rating explained a greater proportion of the variations of the second-order factor of aggression than did that of peer nomination, indicating that peer rating was more valid assessment than peer nomination.

Key words:middle childhood,physical aggression,verbal aggression,relational aggression,multitrait-multimethod analysis

ReleaseDate:2014-07-21 16:10:01

Achenbach, T. M., Edelbrock, C., & Howell, C. T. (1987). Empirically based assessment of the behavioral/emotional problems of 2- and 3-year-old children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 15, 629-650.

Achenbach, T. M. (1995). Empirically based assessment and taxonomy: Applications to clinical research. Psychological Assessment, 7, 261-274.

Allen, J. P., Porter, M. R., McFarland, C. F., Marsh, P. A., & McElhaney, K. B. (2005). The two faces of adolescents’ success with peers: Adolescent popularity, social adaptation, and deviant behavior. Child Development, 76, 747-760.

Archer, J. (2004). Sex differences in aggression in real-world settings: A meta-analytic review. Review of General Psychology, 8, 291-322.

Baker, L. A., Jacobson, K. C., Raine, A., Lozano, D. I., & Bezdjian, S. (2007). Genetic and environmental bases of childhood antisocial behavior: A multi-informant twin study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116, 219-235.

Björkqvist, K., Lagerspetz, K. M. J., & Kaukiainen, A. (1992). Do girls manipulate and boys fight? Developmental trends in regard to direct and indirect aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 18, 117-127.

Boxer, P., Musher-Eizenman, D., Dubow, E. F., Danner, S., & Heretick, D. M. L. (2006). Assessing teachers’ perceptions for school-based aggression prevention programs: Applying a cognitive-ecological framework. Psychology in the Schools, 43, 331-344.

Brendgen, M., Boivin, M., Vitaro, F., Bukowski, W. M., Dionne, G., Tremblay, R. E., et al. (2008). Linkages between children’s and their friends’ social and physical aggression: Evidence for a gene-environment interaction? Child Development, 79, 13-29.

Brendgen, M., Dionne, G., Girard, A., Boivin, M., Vitaro, F., & Pérusse, D. (2005). Examining genetic and environmental effects on social aggression: A study of 6-year-old twins. Child Development, 76, 930-946.

Campbell, D. T., & Fiske, D. W. (1959). Convergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix. Psychological Bulletin, 56, 81-105.

Card, N. A., Stucky, B. D., Sawalani, G. M., & Little, T. D. (2008). Direct and indirect aggression during childhood and adolescence: A meta-analytic review of gender differences, intercorrelations, and relations to maladjustment. Child Development, 79, 1185-1229.

Chen, G. H., Zhang, W. X., & Wang, S. Q. (2009). Agreement among different informants over ratings of adolescent externalizing behaviors (in Chinese). Acta Psychologica Sinica, 41, 144-155. [陈光辉, 张文新, 王姝琼. (2009). 多主体评定青少年外化问题行为的一致性问题. 心理学报, 41, 144-155.]

Courvoisier, D. S., Nussbeck, F. W., Eid, M., Geiser, C., & Cole, D. A. (2008). Analyzing the convergent and discriminant validity of states and traits: Development and applications of multimethod latent state-trait models. Psychological Assessment, 20, 270-280.

Crick, N. R. (1997). Engagement in gender normative versus non-normative forms of aggression: Links to social- psychological adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 33, 610-617.

Crick, N. R., Casas, J. F., & Mosher, M. (1997). Relational and overt aggression in preschool. Developmental Psychology, 33, 579-588.

Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66, 710-722.

Crick, N. R., Ostrov, J. M., & Werner, N. E. (2006). A longitudinal study of relational aggression, physical aggression, and children’s social-psychological adjustment. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34, 131-142.

Geiser, C., Eid, M., Nussbeck, F. W., Courvoisier, D. S., & Cole, D. A. (2010). Analyzing true change in longitudinal multitrait-multimethod studies: Application of a multimethod change model to depression and anxiety in children. Developmental Psychology, 46, 29-45.

Guerra, N. G., Huesmann, L. R., & Spindler, A. (2003). Community violence exposure, social cognition, and aggression among urban elementary school children. Child Development, 74, 1561-1576.

Karver, M. S. (2006). Determinants of multiple informant agreement on child and adolescent behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34, 242-253.

Kazdin, A. E. (1995). Conduct disorders in childhood and adolescence (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kerr, D. C. R., Lunkenheimer, E. S., & Olson, S. L. (2007). Assessment of child problem behaviors by multiple informants: A longitudinal study from preschool to school entry. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 967-975.

Khatri, P., Kupersmidt, J. B., & Patterson, C. (2000). Aggression and peer victimization as predictors of self-Reported behavioral and emotional adjustment. Aggressive Behavior, 26, 345-358.

Konold, T. R., & Pianta, R. C. (2007). The influence of informants on ratings of children’s behavioral functioning. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 25, 222-236.

Kraemer, H. C., Measelle, J. R., Ablow, J. C., Essex, M. J., Boyce, W. T., & Kupfer, D. J. (2003). A new approach to integrating data from multiple informants in psychiatric assessment and research: Mixing and matching contexts and perspectives. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 1566-1577.

Ladd, G. W., & Kochenderfer-Ladd, B. (2002). Identifying victims of peer aggression from early to middle childhood: Analysis of cross-informant data for concordance, estimation of relational adjustment, prevalence of victimization, and characteristics of identified victims. Psychological Assessment,14, 74-96.

Little, T. D., Brauner, J., Jones, S. M., Nock, M. K., & Hawley, P. H. (2003). Rethinking aggression: A typological examination of the functions of aggression. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 49, 343-369.

Loeber, R., Burke, J. D., Lahey, B. B., Winters, A., & Zera, M. (2000). Oppositional defiant and conduct disorder: A review of the past 10 years, Part 1. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 39, 1468-1484.

McNeilly-Choque, M. K., Hart, C. H., Robinson, C. C., Nelson, L. J., & Olsen, S. F. (1996). Overt and relational aggression on the playground: Correspondence among different informants. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 11, 47-67.

Murray-Close, D., Crick, N. R., & Galotti, K. M. (2006). Children’s moral reasoning regarding physical and relational aggression. Social Development, 15, 345-372.

Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Oxford: Blackwell.

Ostrov, J. M. (2008). Forms of aggression and peer victimization during early childhood: A short-term longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 311-322.

Ostrov, J. M., & Bishop, C. M. (2008). Preschoolers’ aggression and parent-child conflict: A multiinformant and multimethod study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 99, 309-322.

Ostrov, J. M., & Crick, N. R. (2007). Forms and functions of aggression during early childhood: A short-term longitudinal study. School Psychology Review, 36, 22-43.

Peets, K., & Kikas, E. (2006). Aggressive strategies and victimization during adolescence: Grade and gender differences, and cross-informant agreement. Aggressive Behavior, 32, 48-79.

Schleicher, D. J., & Day, D. V. (2002). A new frame for Frame-Of-Reference training: Enhancing the construct validity of assessment centers. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 735-746.

Underwood, M. K., Beron, K. J., & Rosen, L. H. (2009). Continuity and change in social and physical aggression from middle childhood through early adolescence. Aggressive Behavior, 35, 357-375.

Vitaro, F., Brendgen, M., & Barker, E. D. (2006). Subtypes of aggressive behaviors: A developmental perspective. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 30, 12-19.

Wang, Y. W., Li, C. D., & Zhang, W. X. (2004). Using multiple methods to measure children’s aggressive behavior (in Chinese). Psychological Development and Education, 2, 69-74. [王益文, 林崇德, 张文新. (2004). 儿童攻击行为的多方法测评研究. 心理发展与教育, 2, 69-74.]

Wen, Z. L., Hau, K. T., & Marsh, H. W. (2004). Structural equation model testing: Cutoff criteria for goodness of fit indices and chi-square test (in Chinese). Acta Psychologica Sinica, 36, 186-194. [温忠麟, 侯杰泰, 马什赫伯特. (2004). 结构方程模型检验: 拟合指数与卡方准则. 心理学报, 36, 186-194.]

Willoughby, M., Kupersmidt, J., & Bryant, D. (2001). Overt and covert dimensions of antisocial behavior in early childhood. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29, 177-187.

Xie, H., Cairns, R. B., & Cairns, B. D. (2002). The development of social aggression and physical aggression: A narrative analysis of interpersonal conflicts. Aggressive Behavior, 28, 341-355.

Zhang, W. X., Wu, J. F., & Jones, K. (1999). Revise of Olweus Bully Victim Questionnaire in Chinese cultural context (in Chinese). Psychological Development and Education, 2, 7-11. [张文新, 武建芬, Jones. (1999). Olweus儿童欺负问卷中文版的修订. 心理发展与教育, 2, 7-11.]