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Title: "Sugar, spice and everything nice"? : risk factors for the continuity of pre-school conduct problems and an investigation of gender differences : a longitudinal study
Author: Reilly, Natalie Lia
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2005
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The primary aim of this study was to identify the "risk factors" associated with pre-schcol conduct problems and their stability over a year, to help increase the accuracy of "early risk" classification. 218 3-year-old children (105 boys, 113 girls, mean age 42.5 months) were recruited from 7 nurseries in disadvantaged areas of London. 72 of the children (30 boys, 42 girls) were identified by parents and/or teachers as "at risk" for conduct problems. 48 children (23 boys, 25 girls) were classified low risk" by both parents and teachers. "At risk" children displayed poorer verbal ability and social skills, and more hyperactivity than "low risk" children. "At risk" boys showed poorer theory of mind skills, more hyperactivity, and a trend towards lower non-verbal IQs than "at risk" girls. Across the whole sample, verbal ability was negatively associated with conduct problems, independently of hyperactivity. In contrast, hyperactivity was independently negatively associated with a wider range of cognitive processes. A non-significant tendency emerged towards stronger negative associations between cognition and conduct problems for boys than girls. A year later, at age 4,156 children were followed up (73 boys, 83 girls), including 51 of the "at risk" children (21 boys, 30 girls) and 32 of the "low risk" children (15 boys, 17 girls). The "at risk" group still displayed poorer verbal ability and social skills, and more hyperactivity, than the "low risk" group, as well as poorer non-verbal IQs. However, the "at risk" group were no longer functioning below the population average range. 50% of the "at risk" group, including equal numbers of boys and girls, still met criteria for risk. "At risk" boys continued to show poorer theory of mind and a trend towards poorer non-verbal IQs than "at risk" girls, and also poorer inhibition. Across the sample, no cognitive predictors of conduct problems emerged independently of hyperactivity, whilst again a more pervasive profile of independent cognitive correlates of hyperactivity emerged. Hyperactivity and conduct problems were more strongly associated for boys than girls at age 4, whilst hyperactivity at age 3 was the strongest predictor of age 4 conduct problems for boys and girls alike. In sum, individual differences in levels of hyperactivity emerged as more pervasively negatively associated with cognition than did conduct problems. Hyperactivity also accounted for many of the risk factors associated with being "at risk" for conduct problems, differentiated "at risk" boys from "at risk" girls, and was the strongest predictor of conduct problems a year later. Co-morbid hyperactivity may thus be an important factor in determining risk for enduring conduct problems, and in accounting for the greater prevalence of "life course persistent" antisocial behaviour amongst males.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available