Antecedents and Correlates of the Popular-Aggressive Phenomenon in Elementary School


  • The preparation of this manuscript was supported by grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to the first (R03 HD048491) and second (U10 HD027040) authors.

concerning this article should be addressed to Philip C. Rodkin, 232A Col. Wolfe School, Mail Code 422, 403 E. Healey St., University of Illinois, Champaign, IL 61820, or Glenn I. Roisman, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Electronic mail may be sent to or


This study identified correlates and developmental antecedents that distinguish popular-aggressive elementary school children from other youth. Drawing on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N = 1022), popular-aggressive children were identified through teacher ratings over Grades 3–6. Potential correlates included social competence as rated by observers, mothers, and teachers. Potential developmental antecedents included cognitive functioning, maternal sensitivity, and participation in child care through age 4.5. Multinomial regressions allowed for the determination of group differences net of covariates such as gender, ethnicity, maternal education, and income-to-needs. Results showed that popular-aggressive elementary school children were distinguished from other youth as having had an extensive child-care history. Discussion focuses on developmental associations between child-care quantity and aggression.