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"Previous cross-sectional research in Western societies has linked adolescent stimulation-seeking, fearlessness, and body size to antisocial behavior," note Adrian Raine and colleagues. But do these correlations hold true for younger children, and for non n-Western cultures, as well?
To find out, Raine et al. analyzed data on 1130 male and female children from the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. (The children are the subjects of a long-term, large-scale study.) The researchers discovered that children who were taller and heavier tha an average at age three were more aggressive than their peers at age 11. Toddlers who were more fearless, and exhibited more stimulation-seeking behavior, also were more aggressive as 11-year-olds than other children. However, height had a significant imp pact on aggressiveness even when the researchers controlled for fearlessness and stimulation-seeking tendencies.
Noting that height at age 11 did not influence aggressiveness, Raine et al. speculate that there is a critical period during development at which size plays a role in influencing aggression. Raine speculates that height may influence aggression both socia ally (because larger children can more easily bully other children) and biologically. "Increased height, stimulation-seeking, and lack of fear have all been associated with increased testosterone and reduced serotonin levels," the researchers say, "factor r rs in turn associated with increased aggression."
"Fearlessness, stimulation-seeking, and large body size at age 3 years as early predispositions to childhood aggression at age 11 years," A. Raine, C. Reynolds, P. H. Venables, S. A. Mednick, and D. P. Farrington, Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 5 55, No. 8, August 1998, pp. 745-751. Address: Adrian Raine, Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061.
"Tall tot today, bully tomorrow?" Science Daily Magazine, August 19, 1998.