Precursors to aggression are evident by 6 months of age

Dale F Hay, Cerith S Waters, Oliver Perra, Naomi Swift, Victoria Kairis, Rebecca Phillips, Roland Jones, Ian Goodyer, Gordon Harold, Anita Thapar, Stephanie van Goozen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
234 Downloads (Pure)


We tested the hypothesis that developmental precursors to aggression are apparent in infancy. Up to three informants rated 301 firstborn infants for early signs of anger, hitting and biting; 279 (93%) were assessed again as toddlers. Informants' ratings were validated by direct observation at both ages. The precursor behaviours were significantly associated with known risk factors for high levels of aggressiveness. Individual differences were stable from early infancy to the third year and predicted broader conduct problems. These findings suggest that some individuals set forth on the trajectory to high levels of aggression by 6 months of age. The findings have implications for developmental studies of aggression, clinical prevention and intervention strategies, and theoretical considerations regarding the detection of precursors in different domains of development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-480
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental science
Issue number3
Early online date25 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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