Parental perceptions of aggressive behavior in preschoolers: inhibitory control moderates the association with negative emotionality

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Suurland, J. ; Van der Heijden, K. B. ; Huijbregts, S. ; Smaling, H. ; De Sonneville, L. M. J. ; Van Goozen, Stephanie Helena Maria ; Swaab, H. (2016)

Inhibitory control (IC) and negative emotionality (NE) are both linked to aggressive behavior, but their interplay has not yet been clarified. This study examines different NE × IC interaction models in relation to aggressive behavior in 855 preschoolers (aged 2–5 years) using parental questionnaires. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that NE and IC predict aggression both directly and interactively. The highest aggression levels were reported in children with high NE and low IC. Interestingly, the protective effect of IC for aggressive behavior increases with rising levels of NE. Analyses focusing on physical aggression revealed a significant NE × IC interaction in boys aged 4-5 years only. These findings shed new light on potential compensatory mechanisms for aggressive behavior in developing children
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