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Identifying early signs of aggression: psychometric properties of the cardiff infant contentiousness scale



Our aim was to develop an age-appropriate measure of early manifestations of aggression. We constructed a questionnaire about normative developmental milestones into which a set of items measuring infants' use of physical force against people and expressed anger were included. These items comprise the Cardiff Infant Contentiousness Scale (CICS). Evidence for the reliability and validity of the CICS is provided from analyses of a sample of N=310 British infants, assessed at a mean age of 6 months as part of a larger longitudinal study of the development of aggression. The informants' CICS ratings demonstrated reasonable levels of internal consistency and interrater agreement. Informants' ratings were validated by observations of infants' distress in response to restraint in a car seat. Longitudinal analyses revealed that contentiousness was stable over time and that contentiousness at 6 months predicted infants' later use of force with peers. When used in the company of other methods, the simple four-item CICS scale could serve as a useful screen for early manifestations of aggressiveness in human infants. Aggr. Behav. 36:351–357, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.