Anger and inhibitory control as moderators of children’s hostile attributions and aggression

The moderating role of mother-reported dispositional anger and inhibitory control (IC) in the relationship of children's hostile attributions of intent (HAI) to aggressive behavior at age 6 years was examined using data from the NICHD-SECCYD. For both teacher- and mother-rated aggression (n = 921), a hypothesized moderating effect of anger was observed, such that HAI was only positively associated with aggressive behavior for children high in anger. For maternal-rated aggression a further 3-way interaction was found, indicating that HAI was only significantly positively associated with aggression for children with high levels of anger and low IC. An unexpected negative relationship between HAI and mother-rated aggression was observed for children low in both anger and IC, such that children with low HAI showed more aggressive behavior under this condition than did children with high HAI. Implications for intervention efforts and for integration of emotion and HAI research are considered.