The reciprocal relationship between social competence and forms of aggression in children
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- Institutt for psykologi 
A considerable amount of research has demonstrated cross-sectional associations between aggression and social competence in childhood. However, because of the lack of longitudinal studies, the question of how these constructs relate to and predict each other over time remains unanswered. The aim of the present work was therefore to explore the longitudinal associations between two forms of aggression (direct and indirect) and social competence. Using an autoregressive cross-lagged model, I analyzed data from 797 children at 6 years of age (1st grade) who were followed up when they were 8 years (3rd grade). The results demonstrated that social competence at age 6 predicted less indirect aggressive behavior (but not direct aggressive behavior) two years later while adjusting for aggressive behavior at age 6. Higher levels of direct aggression at age 6 predicted lower levels of social competence two years later, whereas indirect aggression did not have a significant effect on future social competence. Thus, I found partial support for a reciprocal relationship between aggression and social competence, with the results demonstrating different forms of aggression to relate differently to social competence over time. Implications for prevention efforts and directions for future research are discussed.