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Conflict management in 6–8-year-old aggressive Dutch boys: do they reconcile?

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[Given the individual and societal impact of aggressive behaviour, major research efforts are made to reveal the causes of aggressive conflicts and develop programs to prevent them from occurring. Yet, it may also be important to study mechanisms that reduce negative effects of aggressive conflicts, such as reconciliation. In the present study, aggressive and typically developing Dutch boys, aged 6–8 years, participated in experimentally induced real-life conflict situations to examine their reconciliatory behaviour. Typically developing and aggressive boys exhibited a similar number of aggressive conflicts, but these conflicts lasted longer and escalated more often in boys with aggressive behaviour problems than in typically developing boys. Typically developing boys showed reconciliation, where children with aggressive behaviour problems refrained from reconciliation. The absence of reconciliation in children with aggressive behaviour problems was not due to a lack of initiation, but to rejection of post-conflict affiliation. Since reconciliation is an important mechanism to reduce the negative consequences of aggression, the lack of reconciliation in children with aggressive behaviour problems may be an important reason why their aggressive behaviour escalates and why it is perceived as disruptive. To understand aggressive behaviour problems in children it is, therefore, crucial to not only address the occurrence and causes of aggressive conflicts, but also examine how these aggressive conflicts are managed., Given the individual and societal impact of aggressive behaviour, major research efforts are made to reveal the causes of aggressive conflicts and develop programs to prevent them from occurring. Yet, it may also be important to study mechanisms that reduce negative effects of aggressive conflicts, such as reconciliation. In the present study, aggressive and typically developing Dutch boys, aged 6–8 years, participated in experimentally induced real-life conflict situations to examine their reconciliatory behaviour. Typically developing and aggressive boys exhibited a similar number of aggressive conflicts, but these conflicts lasted longer and escalated more often in boys with aggressive behaviour problems than in typically developing boys. Typically developing boys showed reconciliation, where children with aggressive behaviour problems refrained from reconciliation. The absence of reconciliation in children with aggressive behaviour problems was not due to a lack of initiation, but to rejection of post-conflict affiliation. Since reconciliation is an important mechanism to reduce the negative consequences of aggression, the lack of reconciliation in children with aggressive behaviour problems may be an important reason why their aggressive behaviour escalates and why it is perceived as disruptive. To understand aggressive behaviour problems in children it is, therefore, crucial to not only address the occurrence and causes of aggressive conflicts, but also examine how these aggressive conflicts are managed.]

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/content/journals/10.1163/156853908786131306
2008-11-01
2015-03-06

Affiliations: 1: Department of Developmental Psychology, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, Postnr. 130, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands; 2: Department of Behavioral Biology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

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