Differential Mechanisms Linking Early Childhood Threat and Social/Environmental Deprivation to Adolescent Conduct Problems

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The dimensional model of adversity and psychopathology (DMAP) posits dimensions of childhood adversity (i.e., deprivation, threat) differentially predict child neurobiological outcomes. Both deprivation and threat are associated with higher child conduct problems. The present study explored whether dimensions of childhood adversity during the child’s first five years of life differentially conferred cognitive (i.e., working memory facet of executive dysfunction) and affective (i.e., anger dysregulation) risk (measured at child age 9) of developing child conduct problems at child age 15.

Data are from The Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), a longitudinal birth cohort study comprising 4,898 families.

Two structural equation models were conducted utilizing lavaan in R. The first model examined direct effects of dimensions of adversity on adolescent conduct problems at age 15. The second model examined whether cognitive and affective outcomes at age 9 mediated the association between dimensions of adversity and adolescent conduct problems at age 15.

Consistent with the DMAP, findings indicated the link between higher deprivation and lower working memory was trending. Partially inconsistent with hypotheses, both higher deprivation and threat were associated with higher anger dysregulation. Higher anger dysregulation, but not working memory, was associated with higher adolescent conduct problems. Indirect effects suggested associations between both deprivation and threat and child conduct problems operated through higher dysregulation.

Publication Status
In Press
Journal of Family Violence