Reactively and proactively aggressive children: antecedent and subsequent characteristics


Frank Vitaro Research Unit on Children's Psycho-Social Maladjustment, University of Montreal, 3050 Edouard-Montpetit blvd, Montreal (Quebec), Canada H3T 1J7; Tel: (514) 343-6111 ext. 2561; Fax: (514) 343-6962; Email:


Background: Reactive and proactive subtypes of aggressive 10–11–12-year-old children were compared with non-aggressive children to examine whether the two forms of aggression were differentially related to antecedent and subsequent measures. Method: A large community sample of boys and girls was used. Reactive and proactive aggression was measured through teacher ratings when the children were 10, 11 and 12 years old. Antecedent measures were age 6 temperament and behavioral dispositions; subsequent measures were age 13 delinquency and depressive symptoms. Results: Results indicated that reactive and proactive children had distinctive profiles on antecedent and subsequent measures. Conclusions: We conclude that children characterized by reactive or proactive aggression differ on several dimensions of personal functioning, and that reactive and proactive aggression are distinct forms of aggression, although both co-occur in a large proportion of aggressive children.