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Longitudinal relationship between emotion regulation and aggressive behavior: The moderating effect of caregiving

Kim, Yoo Jung/YJK (2017) Longitudinal relationship between emotion regulation and aggressive behavior: The moderating effect of caregiving. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Aggressive behavior (or violence) among juvenile offenders is a major social problem in the United States. Emotion Regulation (ER) is a critical developmental task that cuts across adolescence. However, there is paucity of research directly linking deficits in ER to aggressive behavior among juvenile offenders. Furthermore, researchers have failed to examine how the effect of ER on aggressive behavior is influenced by the adolescents’ immediate environment, particularly by caregiving.

Acknowledging this gap in the current literature this study represents the first attempt to examine caregiving as a moderator in the relationship between ER and self-report of aggressive offending behavior among ethnically diverse juvenile offenders. Specifically, this study examined two caregiving dimensions (caregiver-adolescent affective relationships and monitoring) that affect development of ER and aggressive behavior from two theoretical perspectives: ecological-transactional model and attachment theory. Applying an ecological-transactional perspective, aggressive behavior was conceptualized as a byproduct of the mutual interaction between adolescent ontogenic development (ER) and the microsystem (caregiving). Attachment theory was integrated with the ecological-transactional model so as to delineate the underlying psychological mechanism regarding the dynamic interactions between ER and caregiving.

The present study used a longitudinal design analyzing the Pathways to Desistance study (n=892; 84% males; 21% White). The findings of the study suggest that changes in ER may cause—and do not merely predict—decline in juvenile offenders’ aggressive behavior. The interaction effect was small in magnitude; however, monitoring operated as a significant moderator in the relationship between changes in ER and changes in aggressive behavior. The results imply that the increased ability to regulate emotion is a strong protective factor against aggressive behavior. Furthermore, effective caregiver’s monitoring may promote positive development of cognitive ER. These relationships may operate synergetically, and may significantly contribute to decreases in aggressive behavior among juvenile offenders. The findings of this study hold strong implications for social work practitioners to treat juvenile offenders and their families. In an effort to reduce and prevent the perpetration of aggressive and violent behavior, social work practitioners in juvenile justice settings need to strengthen intervention efforts to improve ER skills and the quality of caregiving.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kim, Yoo Jung/YJKyok56@pitt.eduYOK56
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFusco, Rachel/RAFRachel.Fusco@pitt.eduRACHEL.FUSCO
Committee MemberGreeno, Catherine/CGGkgreeno@pitt.eduKGREENO
Committee MemberGoodkind, Sara/SAGsara.goodkind@pitt.eduSARA.GOODKIND
Committee MemberCorrenti, Richard/RJCrcorrent@pitt.eduRCORRENT
Date: 3 May 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 September 2016
Approval Date: 3 May 2017
Submission Date: 2 May 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 107
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Social Work > Social Work
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Emotion regulation; Aggressive behavior; Youth violence; Caregiving; Parenting; Juvenile offenders
Date Deposited: 03 May 2017 16:06
Last Modified: 03 May 2017 16:06


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