Development of male proactive and reactive physical aggression during adolescence

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Different developmental courses have been postulated for proactive and reactive aggression.


Investigated the developmental course of proactive and reactive aggression in a large sample of adolescent boys from low socioeconomic areas.


A dual group-based joint trajectory method was used to identify distinct trajectories as well as similarities and differences in intra-individual changes.


The trajectories for proactive and reactive aggression were similar: the majority of individuals followed infrequent and desisting trajectories. Contrary to expectations, very few adolescents followed trajectories of increasing proactive aggression. Reactive aggression was more common than proactive aggression. The overlap in trajectory group membership of individuals following trajectories of high peaking proactive and reactive aggression was nearly 100%. Across a period of 5 years, the boys on the high peaking trajectories were twice as likely to have affiliated with gangs.


The developmental courses of proactive and reactive aggression are similar during adolescence. Males who tend to frequently use one form of aggression throughout adolescence also tend to frequently use the other and are at an increased risk for contemporaneous delinquent lifestyles.

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