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Reactive and Proactive Aggression among Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Early Adolescents in Norway: The Relations to Emotional and Conduct Problems

[ Vol. 10 , Issue. 3 ]


Hildegunn Fandrem*, Brit Oppedal and Thormod Idsoe   Pages 219 - 230 ( 12 )


Objective: This study explores the differences in the association between three different types of aggression (reactive aggression, power-related proactive aggression and affiliation- related proactive aggression) and emotional and conduct problems between early adolescents with immigrant and non-immigrant backgrounds in Norway.

Methods: The sample comprised 1759 early adolescents in fifth to eighth grade (10- to 15- year-olds). The proportion of early adolescent immigrants with two foreign-born parents was 862, and 897 participants were adolescents with two Norwegian-born parents. The gender distribution was similar in the immigrant and non-immigrant samples, 48.2% boys and 49.5% girls. The mean age was 11.6 years (SD 1.25) for immigrant boys, 11.7 (SD 1.29) for non-immigrant boys, 11.6 (SD = 1.25) for immigrant girls, and 11.8 (SD = 1.27) for nonimmigrant girls. Data were collected via self-report assessments.

Results: A multigroup structural equation model revealed that the effects of reactive and proactive aggression were different for conduct and emotional problems. Only reactive and power-related proactive aggression was significantly associated with conduct problems, and effect sizes were independent of immigrant status. The effects of reactive and power-related proactive aggression on emotional problems were stronger for non-immigrant early adolescents, while the effects of affiliation-related proactive aggression were stronger for immigrant- background early adolescents.

Conclusion: A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the associations between aggression and emotional problems and the variation between immigrant and nonimmigrant early adolescents can shed light on the etiology of mental health and behavioral problems. The importance of such knowledge in designing interventions targeting aggression among early adolescents in multicultural contexts is discussed.


Reactive aggression, proactive aggression, immigrant, early adolescents, emotional problems, conduct problems.


Norwegian Center for Learning Environment and Behavioural Research in Education, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norwegian Center for Learning Environment and Behavioural Research in Education, University of Stavanger, Stavanger

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