Developmental trajectories of aggression from late childhood through adolescence: Similarities and differences across gender

Hongling Xie*, Deborah A G Drabick, Diane Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Although numerous investigations of overt aggressive and antisocial trajectories have been undertaken, there is a dearth of literature examining gender differences and similarities in trajectory patterns and their correlates. To address these gaps, we investigated gender differences in the prevalence rates, predictive validity during transition to adulthood, childhood risk factors, and adolescent correlates of different trajectories of teacher-reported overt aggression (i.e., fights, argues, gets in trouble) among 220 participants (116 girls and 104 boys) evaluated annually from grade 4 to grade 12. Four patterns of trajectories were identified: low, increasing (i.e., adolescent-onset), decreasing (i.e., childhood-limited), and high (i.e., childhood-onset). A large proportion of youth, particularly girls, displayed low levels of aggression over time. A small proportion followed the childhood-onset trajectory. Across gender, the childhood-onset trajectory was associated with the highest rates of maladjustment during the transition to adulthood, the highest number of childhood risk factors, and multiple problems during adolescence. The adolescent-onset trajectory was associated with few childhood risk factors, but with high levels of independent status during adolescence. In contrast, the childhood-limited trajectory was associated with several childhood risk factors, but high levels of parental monitoring and school engagement during adolescence. Romantic involvement differentiated the adolescent-onset and childhood-limited trajectories among girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-404
Number of pages18
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Adolescent correlates
  • Childhood risk
  • Developmental trajectories
  • Gender
  • Overt aggression
  • Predictive validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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