The Impact of Aggression Subtypes and Friendship Quality on Child Symptoms of Depression
Although aggressive behavior and poor friendship quality have both been linked to child depressive symptoms (Card and Little 2006; Panak and Garber 1992; Oldenberg and Kerns 1997), little to no research has examined how the combined form and function subtypes of aggression (i.e., proactive-overt, reactive-overt, proactive-relational, and reactive-relational) are related to depressive symptoms. Further, it is unclear if these subtypes are associated with depressive symptoms when also accounting for the variance associated with friendship quality or whether friendship quality interacts with the aggression subtypes to impact child depressive symptoms. The purpose of the current study was to examine the link between aggression subtypes, friendship quality, and child depressive symptoms. The sample included 89 children (56 % male; 74 % Caucasian) who were between 9 and 12 years of age (M010.4 years, SD01.1) and their caregivers. Child reports of depressive symptoms and ratings of friendship quality with a best friend as well as caregiver reports of childrenĺs aggressive behaviors were obtained during separate interviews. Correlation analyses indicated that reactive-overt, reactive-relational, and proactive-relational forms of aggression were positively associated while friendship quality was negatively associated with child depressive symptoms; however, regression analyses revealed that only reactive-overt aggression and friendship quality were uniquely associated with depressive symptoms. Friendship quality did not moderate the association between any subtype of aggression and depression. This study suggests the need to specifically target individuals who exhibit reactive-overt aggression for the prevention of depressive symptoms, regardless of their levels of friendship quality.