La agresión en niños y niñas de 7-8 años. Efectos interactivos de los estilos parentales, la ecología familiar y el temperamento. Un estudio exploratorio

  1. Ruiz Ortiz, Rosa María
Supervised by:
  1. Paloma Braza Lloret Director
  2. María Rosario Carreras de Alba Director

Defence university: Universidad de Cádiz

Fecha de defensa: 27 September 2018

  1. José Ramón Sánchez Martín Chair
  2. José Manuel Muñoz Sánchez Secretary
  3. Carla Zappulla Committee member
  1. Psicología

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 568413 DIALNET


Aggression has been considered from an evolutionary perspective as an adaptive behaviour. Nevertheless, when this behaviour occurs frequently and remains stable over time, it is linked to problems of social adjustment and even mental health. Factors such as family ecology and parenting styles have a relevant role in the explanation of this trajectory of social risk. However, not all children are equally sensitive to the influences of these family factors. The main purpose of the present research was to study the interactive effects of family factors (parenting styles and ecology) and child temperament on aggressive behaviour of boys and girls aged 7-8 years. We tested whether children vary in sensitivity to parenting styles and family ecology depending on their temperament and sex, and if so, which model best describes this sensitivity pattern (Diathesis-stress, Differential susceptibility, or Vantage sensitivity). Diathesis-stress model proposes that some individuals with certain characteristics are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of an adverse environment. Differential susceptibility model postulates that some individuals with certain characteristics are more susceptible for ‘better’ and for ‘worse’, that is, for both harmful effects of stressful contexts and beneficial effects of supportive environments. Lastly, Vantage sensitivity model posits that certain individuals are more sensitive to the beneficial effects of supportive environments only. The study sample consisted of 203 Spanish Caucasian children, 96 boys (47.3%) and 107 girls (52.7%), aged 7–8 years (mean = 92.42 months, SD = 3.52). Participants were recruited from different state schools of Chiclana de la Frontera and Puerto Real (Cadiz, Andalusia, Southern Spain). Family ecology included family stress, marital conflict and parental stress measured respectively by the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS, Holmes & Rahe, 1976; Spanish adaptation, González de Rivera & Morera, 1983), the Couple Conflict Questionnaire (Arranz, Oliva, Olabarrieta, & Antolín, 2010) and the Parental Stress Scale (PSS, Berry & Jones, 1995; Spanish adaptation, Oronoz, Alonso-Arbiol, & Balluerka, 2007). The first one was completed by parents jointly, and the last two were completed by father and mother separately. In order to assess the parenting styles used by each parent, they filled in the Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (PSDQ, Robinson, Mandleco, Olsen, & Hart, 2001), and the Anticipatory Problem Solving subscale (APS) of Overparenting Scale that reports the degree to which fathers and mothers solve problems on behalf of their children (Segrin et al., 2012). Children’s temperament was informed by parents jointly through the Children’s Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ, Rothbart et al., 2001; Spanish translation by Hertfelder, 2013). Children’s aggressive behaviour was measured through a multi-report procedure (parents, teachers and peers). Participants (boys and girls) informed about peer aggression (physical, verbal and indirect) through the Peer Estimated Conflict Behavior (PECOBE, Björkqvist & Österman, 1995), and parents and teachers completed the Aggression subscale of the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC P-2/T-2, Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004; Spanish adaptation, González, Fernández, Pérez, & Santamaría, 2004). As analytical strategy to study the moderating effects of child sex and temperament on the relationships between family factors (parenting styles and ecology) and aggressive behaviour, multiple hierarchical regression analyses were conducted. We followed the procedure recommended by Aiken and West (1991) and Lengua (2008). In order to analyse which theoretical model explains the interactive effects detected, the techniques described by Roisman et al. (2012) and by Preacher, Curran, and Bauer, (2006) were used, examining the regions of significance (RoS) of the moderator variable and the predictor variable, as well as the Interaction Proportion Index (PoI). The figures of the interactive effects detected were conducted using the open access web program developed by Chris Fraley available at The results of the present study identified some traits of child temperament, specifically a low level of negative affect, a low level of effortful control and a high level of surgency/extraversion, which made the individuals more vulnerable to the effects of certain parenting styles upon child aggression (Diathesis-stress model). Thus, children with low levels of negative affect were more vulnerable than others to the effect of maternal coercion and maternal inconsistency on their aggression at the school. Girls who had low levels of effortful control were also more vulnerable than others to the influence of the maternal coercion on their school aggression. In addition, individuals who had high levels of surgency/extraversion were more vulnerable than others to the effect of low levels of maternal overprotection on aggression reported by peers. Finally, only boys with high levels of surgency/extraversion were more vulnerable to the effect of paternal coercion on their aggression in the family context. On the other hand, other traits of child temperament such as a high level of negative affect or a low level of surgency/extraversion were markers of differential susceptibility in relation to the effects of paternal indulgence on child aggression. In this sense, children who display high levels of negative affect were more harmed than others by the effect of paternal indulgence on aggression reported by teachers; but they also benefited more than others from the effect of a low level of paternal indulgence on aggression reported by teachers. That same effect happened with individuals who had low levels of surgency/extraversion, although just in the case of aggression reported by the families. Lastly, only low levels of negative affect was shown as an advantageous characteristic in girls (but not in boys) in relation to the effects of low levels of marital conflict on girl aggression reported by the families. All the results described above have been discussed in the light of the existing literature. In general, our findings suggest that middle childhood, especially at the beginning, could be a transition stage where the different traits of temperament change progressively and at a different pace from being a Differential susceptibility marker (more common in the previous stages) towards a Diathesis-stress marker (more usual of later stages). Furthermore, in this stage of transition, the temperament could still maintain its role as a moderator of family influences on the development of aggression, but only when these influences get high levels of intensity. In this way, it is possible that, in middle childhood, temperament evolves from acting as a moderator to acting as a mediator in the relationship between family environment and aggression. Keywords: Middle childhood- temperament- aggression-parenting styles- interactive effects