Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Assessing Reactive and Proactive Aggression in Detained Adolescents Outside of a Research Context

The Reactive Proactive Aggression Questionnaire (RPQ) is a self-report tool for assessing reactive aggression (RA) and proactive aggression (PA). This study contributes to the literature by testing the psychometric properties of the RPQ across detained boys from various ethnicities whilst using data that were gathered during clinical assessments. The factorial, convergent, and criterion validity, and the internal consistency of the RPQ scores received strong support in the total sample and across four ethnicity groups. Also, three groups of boys were identified, with the group including boys with high levels of both RA and PA including the most severe boys in terms of anger, delinquency, alcohol/drug use, and psychopathic traits, and having the highest prevalence rate of conduct disorder and substance use disorder. Together, these findings suggest that the RPQ may hold promise for assessing RA and PA in detained boys, even when confidentiality and anonymity of the information is not guaranteed.

Results from confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) supported the two-factor structure over the one-factor structure of the RPQ, and showed that a significant distinction can be made between reactive aggression and proactive aggression in detained adolescent males. Specifically, all model fit indices were indicative of an acceptable or good model fit in the total sample and in youths from various ethnicities, except for the χ2/df ratio for the total sample. However, with increasing sample size and a constant number of degrees of freedom, the χ2 value increases, and theχ2/df ratio, therefore, may suggest to reject a plausible model [38]. Because the χ2/df ratio was below the cut-off value in three subgroups and because all the other fit indices supported the two-factor model of the RPQ, this model can be considered to be acceptable in the total sample as well.

Our findings also provide support for the convergent validity of the RPQ scores. At the zero-order level, RPQ total, RA and PA scores, were positively related to other indices of aggressive behavior and features of anger-irritability. Also, after controlling for the PA score, only the RA score remained significantly related to anger and irritability, but was no longer related to aggressive CD symptoms. These results support the view that reactive, but not proactive aggression, is often accompanied with anger and a loss of impulse control [4,5]. Although some of the aggressive CD symptoms can occur as an uncontrolled response to frustration or anger (e.g., forcing someone into sexual activity, initiating fights, using a weapon that can cause serious physical harm), the RA score was never significantly related to aggressive CD symptoms after controlling for the PA score. Yet, after controlling for the RA score, the PA score remained significantly related to aggressive CD symptoms (Table 3) in the total sample and Dutch and Moroccan boys. This suggests that the aggression displayed by detained youths with a CD diagnosis is likely to be premeditated and planned, a notion that is supported by the finding that only the PA score was positively related to aggressive conduct disorder (Tables 4​,55).

The results also supported the criterion validity of the RPQ score in detained male youths. As hypothesized, only the RA score was positively related to depressive feelings, anxiety, and suicide ideation after controlling for the other RPQ scale score. Although there were no clear expectations about the relationship between the RPQ and social problems, the RA score was positively associated with this outcome in the total sample and some ethnicity groups. Overall, our findings are in accordance with recent work, including studies that scrutinized relations with suicide risk, social problems and peer rejection [4142], and support the claim that reactive aggression is an indicator of overall poor psychosocial adjustment [13]. However, the results do not support the suggestion that reactive aggression is primarily related to low prosocial behavior, and that proactive aggression has little or no association with prosocial behavior independent of reactive aggression [13]. In contrast, the present study showed that only the PA score was significantly negatively related to prosocial behavior after controlling for the RA score. Given that few studies addressed the relationship between self-reported reactive and proactive aggression and prosocial behavior, future studies are warranted. The finding that a higher PA score was associated with a lower level of prosocial behavior, nevertheless, corresponds with the finding that only PA was positively related to self-reported offenses (Tables 4​,55)…

Full article at:   http://goo.gl/O5mjWE

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Curium-Leiden University Medical Center, Endegeesterstraatweg 27, 2342 AK Oegstgeest, The Netherlands
Academic Workplace Forensic Care for Youth (Academische Werkplaats Forensische Zorg voor Jeugd), Zutphen, The Netherlands
Olivier F. Colins, Email: ln.muiruc@sniloc.o.

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