Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This study investigated the different forms (relational and physical) and functions(reactive and proactive) of aggressive behavior in preschool children and the relationship of these behaviors to social-cognitive abilities. Naturalistic observations and teacher reports were used to assess the aggressive behavior of 60 preschool children. Evidence was found for four categories of aggressive behavior in the preschool sample: relational-reactive, relational-proactive, physical-reactive, and physical-proactive. Significant relationships were found between informants for both physical and proactive aggression, but not for relational or reactive aggression. A negative relationship was found between physical aggression and performance on theory of mind tasks for teachers’ ratings of aggressive behavior only. No significant relationships were found between relational aggression and social cognitive abilities. A significant relationship was found between proactive aggression and hostile attributional bias only based on observer ratings of aggression, while no relationships were found between reactive aggression and social cognitive abilities.


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