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The protective effect of character maturity in child aggressive antisocial behavior
University West, Department of Health Sciences, Section for health promotion and care sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8854-0399
University of Gothenburg, Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental health (CELAM), Sweden.
Washington University, Center for Well-being School of Medicine in St. Louis, USA.
University of Gothenburg, Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental health (CELAM), Sweden.
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2017 (English)In: Comprehensive Psychiatry, ISSN 0010-440X, E-ISSN 1532-8384, Vol. 76, 129-137 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: Childhood aggressive antisocial behavior (CD) is one of the strongest predictors of mental health problems and criminal behavior in adulthood. The aims of this study were to describe personality profiles in children with CD, and to determine the strength of association between defined neurodevelopmental symptoms, dimensions of character maturity and CD.

METHODS: A sample of 1886 children with a close to equal distribution of age (9 or 12) and gender, enriched for neurodevelopmental and psychiatric problems were selected from the nationwide Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden. Their parents rated them according to the Junior Temperament and Character Inventory following a telephone interview during which information about the children's development and mental health was assessed with the Autism-Tics, AD/HD and other Comorbidities inventory.

RESULT: Scores on the CD module significantly and positively correlated with scores on the Novelty Seeking temperament dimension and negatively with scores on character maturity (Self-Directedness and Cooperativeness). In the group of children with either neurodevelopmental or behavioral problems, the prevalence of low or very low character maturity was 50%, while when these two problems coexisted the prevalence of low or very low character maturity increased to 70%. Neurodevelopmental problems (such as: oppositional defiant disorder, symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder) and low scores on character maturity emerged as independently significant predictors of CD; in a multivariable model, only oppositional defiant symptoms and impulsivity significantly increased the risk for coexisting CD while a mature self-agency in a child (Self-Directedness) remained a significant protective factor.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that children's willpower, the capacity to achieve personally chosen goals may be an important protective factor - even in the presence of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric problems - against progressing into persistent negative outcomes, such as aggressive antisocial behaviors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 76, 129-137 p.
Keyword [en]
Character, Child aggressive antisocial behavior, Conduct disorder, Mental health, Neurodevelopment, Personality, Self-directedness
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
SOCIAL SCIENCE, Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-10945DOI: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2017.04.007PubMedID: 28521251OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-10945DiVA: diva2:1097840
Note

Available online 29 April 2017

Available from: 2017-05-23 Created: 2017-05-23 Last updated: 2017-06-08Bibliographically approved

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