Do social information processing patterns mediate aggressive behavior?

Dodge, K. A. (2003). Do social information processing patterns mediate aggressive behavior? In B. Lahey, T. Moffitt, & A. Caspi (Eds.), Causes of conduct disorder and juvenile delinquency (pp. 254-274). New York: Guilford Press.



In the study reported here, we tested the hypothesis that the Fast Track preventive intervention’s positive impact on antisocial behavior in adolescence is mediated by its impact on social-cognitive processes during elementary school. Fast Track is the largest and longest federally funded preventive intervention trial for children showing aggressive behavior at an early age. Participants were 891 high-risk kindergarten children (69% male, 31% female; 49% ethnic minority, 51% ethnic majority) who were randomly assigned to an intervention or a control group by school cluster. Multiyear intervention addressed social-cognitive processes through social-skill training groups, parent groups, classroom curricula, peer coaching, and tutoring. Assigning children to the intervention decreased their mean antisocial-behavior score after Grade 9 by 0.16 standardized units (p < .01). Structural equation models indicated that 27% of the intervention’s impact on antisocial behavior was mediated by its impact on three social-cognitive processes: reducing hostile-attribution biases, increasing competent response generation to social problems, and devaluing aggression. These findings support a model of antisocial behavioral development mediated by social-cognitive processes, and they guide prevention planners to focus on these processes.