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Keywords:

  • aggression;
  • stability;
  • gender difference

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the stability of aggression from childhood to middle age in women and men. The participants were drawn from the Finnish Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Personality and Social Development, where aggression in 145 women and 154 men was assessed at ages 8, 14, 36, and 42. Data were collected at ages 8 and 14 by teacher ratings and peer nominations, and at ages 36 and 42 by self-ratings on aggression. The stability of aggression from childhood to middle adulthood was tested using three different LISREL models: a simplex model; a model linking aggression at age 8 to age 14 to a latent adult aggression variable (ages 36 and 42); and a model linking a latent childhood aggression variable (ages 8 and 14) to a latent adult variable. The simplex model did not fit the data, but the other two models showed that there was significant stability in aggression from childhood to adulthood. When ages 8 and 14 data were separately analyzed, it was found that, in both women and men, aggression was quite stable from age 8 to 14 and, again, from age 14 to adulthood. In men, aggression at age 8 also directly contributed to aggression in adulthood, explaining the fact that the overall stability of aggression from childhood to adulthood was higher in men than in women. However, when latent variables for child measures and for adult measures of aggression were formed, high stability (estimate .42) was observed in both genders; aggression at age 8 to 14 explained 18% of the variance of adult aggression. Aggr. Behav. 00:1–13, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.