Faculty Articles

Childhood Depression and Aggression: A Covariance Structure Analysis

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Behaviour Research and Therapy





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The purpose of the present study was to: (a) evaluate the comorbidity of depression and aggression in a community sample of school-age children; (b) demonstrate the use of confirmatory factor analysis as a statistical tool in the assessment of the construct validity of childhood depression and aggression measures; and (c) using multisample analysis and structural equation modeling, examine the generalizability of comorbidity across two potential moderating or mediating variables (i.e. gender and peer unpopularity). A series of hypothetical models was tested to identify the number of factors represented by the data, the convergent and discriminant validity of the measures, the relationship between the latent variables of childhood depression and aggression, the influence of method-specific variation, and structural relationships among the latent constructs. Results supported a two-factor comorbidity model (childhood depression and aggression) and the presence of method effects (i.e. rater bias). Though the basic measurement model identified substantial comorbid symptoms and was generally invariant across gender, boys' self-reports of symptomatology evidenced poor validity. The structural equation models supported the independent effects of peer aggression and unpopularity on depression for both boys and girls, though aggression may be somewhat more strongly related to unpopularity among girls. Results were consistent with psychiatric investigations of comorbid depressive and aggressive disorders and emerging developmental psychopathology research on the socioemotional development of aggression and depression in youth.

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