Emotional competence and aggressive behavior in school-age children

Amy M. Bohnert, Keith A. Crnic, Karen G. Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Examined emotional competence in 87 children, aged 7-10 years, who varied with respect to reports of aggressive behavior to determine whether individual differences in emotional competence characterize children with higher levels of aggressive behavior. Emotional competence was assessed during a 1-hr lab visit that included (a) an observational period consisting of a modified disappointment paradigm, (b) assessment of cognitive and language abilities, and (c) 2 structured emotion interviews. Children with higher levels of aggressive behavior exhibited more intense and frequent expressions of anger, both as reported by mothers and as observed during the disappointment paradigm. Less sophisticated ability to identify the causes of emotion also characterized children with higher levels of aggressive behavior. Gender moderated the relation between aggressive behavior and type of emotion identified such that reports of happiness (in response to receiving a disappointing prize) were associated with lower levels of reported aggressive behavior for boys. The value of assessing children's emotional competence in the context of an emotionally arousing situation is suggested by these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-91
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggressive behavior
  • Emotion understanding
  • Emotional competence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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