Distilling heterogeneity among children with disruptive behavior: associations between symptom patterns and social functioning


Children with disruptive behavior (DB) are a heterogeneous group who exhibit several characteristics that may contribute to poor social functioning. The present study identified profiles of reactive aggression, proactive aggression, callous-unemotional (CU) traits, and prosocial behavior in a sample of children with DB. Associations with social functioning (social interaction, social status) were then examined, along with sex differences in profile membership. Parent ratings of 304 clinic-referred children ages 6–12 years with DB were analyzed using latent profile analysis. Five profiles were identified: 1) Moderate prosocial behavior, reactive aggression, and CU, and low proactive aggression (labelled Moderate); 2) Relatively high prosocial behavior and low reactive and proactive aggression and CU traits (Prosocial); 3) High prosocial behavior and reactive aggression, moderate proactive aggression, and low-moderate CU (Reactive-Prosocial); 4) Low prosocial behavior, high CU, high-moderate reactive aggression, and low-moderate proactive aggression (Reactive-CU); and 5) Low prosocial behavior and high reactive and proactive aggression and CU (Aggressive-CU). Profiles characterized by CU traits, reactive aggression, and low prosocial behavior were associated with the most problematic parent-rated social interaction and social status. The results highlight the need to differentiate profiles of psychopathology in children with DB to better address factors most associated with social functioning.

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 46(6), 1241–1252