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Aggression and intentionality in narrative responses to conflict and distress story stems : an investigation of boys with disruptive behaviour problems.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date09/2007
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Number of pages15
Original languageEnglish


In this study we examined whether antisocial boys show evidence of a reduced interpersonal interpretation of events (intentionality) specifically in story stem responses to social challenges that provoke fear and distress responses. Two conflict and two distress stems were administered to 5 - 8 year old boys, 41 referred for disruptive behaviour problems and 25 non-referred boys. Raters blind to group membership scored dysregulated aggression and intentionality from transcripts of story responses. Referred boys had elevated aggression and lower intentionality scores across all stems compared to non-referred. However, there was a story type by group interaction; referred boys had substantially lowered intentionality in response to the distress stems, but not the conflict stems. Avoidant strategies that reduce threat related anxiety or fear also contribute to disruptive behaviour problems.