Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in Psychology



First Advisor

Tamara Del Vecchio

Second Advisor

Raymond DiGiuseppe


Physical aggression is known to be common and prevelant in infancy and toddlerhood. Individual differences in physical aggression can be relatively stable already in infancy and toddlerhood, and predict a range of negative outcomes later in life. Several studies have identified children who exhibit high levels of aggression throughout their childhood beginning in infancy and toddlerhood. Most research has focused on identifying risk factors associated with such chronic aggression. Surprisingly, there is very little attention paid to the role prosocial behavior plays in the early development of aggression. Yet, some evidence suggests that aggression and prosocial behavior can go hand in hand earlier in the development. Recent studies have even identified different groups of children who demonstrate distinct trajectories of aggression and prosocial behavior beginning in toddlerhood. Despite that both aggression and prosocial behavior emerge during the first two years of life, there is a dearth of studies examining the co-development of aggression and prosocial behaviors during that developmental period. Thus, the goal of this cross-sectional study was to examine whether I could identify distinct profiles of 4- to 15-month-old children based on their physical aggression and prosocial behavior, and whether profile membership would be differentially associated with children’s age, motor skills, temper loss, and harsh-parenting. Participants included a sample of 376 mothers in the US of infants of 4 to 15 months, (6.4% boys; Mage = 9.41 months), who completed scales measuring infant exploratory and directed aggression, prosocial behaviors, early motor development, temper loss, and harsh parenting. I conducted latent profile analyses. Relying on several fit indices, the present study identified 5 different profiles of children, aged 4-to 15 months, who displayed varied levels of prosocial behavior and/or physical aggression. The study covariates were also differentially related to behavioral profiles. These results highlight the importance of studying the early development of physical aggression together with prosocial behavior to better understand the deficits and skills of different aggressive children. Taking a person-centered approach allows researchers to identify different subgroups of infants who may benefit from different intervention efforts, depending on their unique set of skills and deficits.

Included in

Psychology Commons