You are here

Developmental association of prosocial behaviours with aggression, anxiety and depression from infancy to pre-adolescence

TitleDevelopmental association of prosocial behaviours with aggression, anxiety and depression from infancy to pre-adolescence
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsNantel-Vivier, A., Pihl R. O., and Tremblay R.
JournalThe American Journal of Psychiatry
Pages24
Abstract

Objective: Research on associations between children's prosocial behaviours and mental health, as well as predictors of these associations, has provided mixed evidence. The present study sought to describe and predict the joint development of prosocial behaviours with physical aggression, anxiety, and depression from 2 to 11 years of age. Method: Data was drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY), a longitudinal cohort study of children's development. Biennial prosocial behaviour, physical aggression, anxiety, and depression ratings from the Person Most Knowledgeable about the child (PMK) were available for 10 700 children ages 0 to 9 at the first assessment point. Results: Children following a high prosocial behaviour developmental trajectory were more likely to follow a low physical aggression, and low depression trajectory. However, they were also more likely to follow a low or high anxiety trajectory. Being a boy decreased the likelihood of membership to the high prosocial trajectory. Positive parenting increased the likelihood of high prosociality, while hostile parenting increased the likelihood of high problem behaviours. Low family income and maternal depression increased the likelihood of jointly exhibiting high prosocial behaviours and high problem behaviours. Conclusions: Individual differences exist in the association of prosocial behaviours with mental health. While high prosociality tends to co-occur with low problem behaviours, high prosocial and problem behaviours can co-occur in subgroups of individuals. Child, mother, and family characteristics are predictive of individual differences in joint prosocial and problem behaviour development. Mechanisms underlying these associations warrant future investigations.