Relations between theory of mind and indirect and physical aggression in kindergarten: evidence of the moderating role of prosocial behaviors

Annie Renouf, Mara Brendgen, Sophie Parent, Frank Vitaro, Philipp David Zelazo, Michel Boivin, Ginette Dionne, Richard E. Tremblay, Daniel Pérusse, Jean R. Séguin

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49 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study examined the association between theory of mind and indirect versus physical aggression, as well as the potential moderating role of prosocial behavior in this context. Participants were 399 twins and singletons drawn from two longitudinal studies in Canada. At five years of age, children completed a theory of mind task and a receptive vocabulary task. A year later, teachers evaluated children's indirect and physical aggression and prosocial behavior. Indirect aggression was significantly and positively associated with theory of mind skills, but only in children with average or low levels of prosocial behavior. Physical aggression was negatively associated with prosocial behavior but not with theory of mind. Each analysis included gender, receptive vocabulary, and the respective other subtype of aggression as control variables. These results did not differ between girls and boys or between twins and singletons. Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-555
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Development
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2010

Keywords

  • Indirect aggression
  • Physical aggression
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Theory of mind

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    Renouf, A., Brendgen, M., Parent, S., Vitaro, F., David Zelazo, P., Boivin, M., Dionne, G., Tremblay, R. E., Pérusse, D., & Séguin, J. R. (2010). Relations between theory of mind and indirect and physical aggression in kindergarten: evidence of the moderating role of prosocial behaviors. Social Development, 19(3), 535-555. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2009.00552.x