The tremendous negative impact of conduct problems to the individual and society has provided the impetus for identifying risk factors, particularly in early childhood. Exposure to neighborhood deprivation in early childhood is a robust predictor of conduct problems in middle childhood. Efforts to identify and test mediating mechanisms by which neighborhood deprivation confers increased risk for behavioral problems have predominantly focused on peer relationships and community-level social processes. Less attention has been dedicated to potential cognitive mediators of this relationship, such as aggressive response generation, which refers to the tendency to generate aggressive solutions to ambiguous social stimuli with negative outcomes. In this study, we examined aggressive response generation, a salient component of social information processing, as a mediating process linking neighborhood deprivation to later conduct problems at age 10.5. Participants (N = 731; 50.5 % male) were drawn from a multisite randomized prevention trial that includes an ethnically diverse and low-income sample of male and female children and their primary caregivers followed prospectively from toddlerhood to middle childhood. Results indicated that aggressive response generation partially mediated the relationship between neighborhood deprivation and parent- and teacher-report of conduct problems, but not youth-report. Results suggest that the detrimental effects of neighborhood deprivation on youth adjustment may occur by altering the manner in which children process social information.
- Conduct problems
- Middle childhood
- Neighborhood deprivation
- Social information processing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health