Trait and State Variance in Oppositional Defiant Disorder Symptoms: A Multi-Source Investigation With Spanish Children

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The objective was to determine and compare the trait and state components of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptom reports across multiple informants. Mothers, fathers, primary teachers, and secondary teachers rated the occurrence of the ODD symptoms in 810 Spanish children (55% boys) on 2 occasions (end first and second grades). Single source latent state-trait (LST) analyses revealed that ODD symptom ratings from all 4 sources showed more trait (M = 63%) than state residual (M = 37%) variance. A multiple source LST analysis revealed substantial convergent validity of mothers’ and fathers’ trait variance components (M = 68%) and modest convergent validity of state residual variance components (M = 35%). In contrast, primary and secondary teachers showed low convergent validity relative to mothers for trait variance (Ms = 31%, 32%, respectively) and essentially zero convergent validity relative to mothers for state residual variance (Ms = 1%, 3%, respectively). Although ODD symptom ratings reflected slightly more trait- than state-like constructs within each of the 4 sources separately across occasions, strong convergent validity for the trait variance only occurred within settings (i.e., mothers with fathers; primary with secondary teachers) with the convergent validity of the trait and state residual variance components being low to nonexistent across settings. These results suggest that ODD symptom reports are trait-like across time for individual sources with this trait variance, however, only having convergent validity within settings. Implications for assessment of ODD are discussed.

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