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Developmental considerations in the investigation of conduct disorder1

  • Dante Cicchetti (a1) and John E. Richters (a2)

The papers in this special issue attest to the theoretical and empirical advances that have been made in understanding the epidemiology, subtypes, etiology, neuropsychology, psychobiology, course, consequences, prevention, and treatment of conduct disorder (CD) (see also Kazdin, 1987; Loeber, 1990; Loeber & Stouthamer-Loeber, 1986; Moffitt, 1990; Patterson, 1982; Robins, 1991; White, Moffitt, Earls, Robins, & Silva, 1990). A number of theoretical conceptualizations have been forwarded in an attempt to comprehend this complex form of disorder in children. Such divergence in thinking indicates that the topic of CD has evolved into an active and significant domain of inquiry. To date, however, there has been no unifying theoretical framework for bringing conceptual clarity to the diverse perspectives represented in the study of conduct disorder. Although existing work within particular disciplines and subdisciplines has provided substantial contributions to our understanding of CD, these accounts typically have not considered the broader matrix of complex and evolving biological, cognitive, socioemotional, representational, and social-cognitive capacities of the developing child. As a consequence, disparate theoretical formulations are often too narrow in focus to address the range of processes and mechanisms that will be necessary to explain adequately how and why manifestations of CD emerge, change overtime and are influenced by children's developmental levels.

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D. Cicchetti (1984). The emergence of developmental psychopathology. Child Development, 55, 17.

K. A. Dodge (1980). Social cognition and children's aggressive behavior. Child Development, 51, 162170.

K. A. Dodge (1993a). Social-cognitive mechanisms in the development of conduct disorder and and depression. Annual Review of Psychology, 44, 559584.

K. A. Dodge , J. E. Bates , & G. Pettit (1990). Mechanisms in the cycle of violence. Science, 250, 16781683.

A. E. Kazdin (1987). Treatment of antisocial behavior in children: Current status and future directions. Psychological Bulletin, 102, 187203.

M. Kruesi , E. Hibbs , T. Zahn , C. Keysor , S. Hamburger , J. Bartko , & J. Rapoport (1992). A 2-year prospective follow-up study of children and adolescents with disruptive behavior disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 49, 429435.

R. Loeber (1990). Development and risk factors of juvenile antisocial behavior and delinquency. Clinical Psychology Review, 10, 141.

R. Loeber , & M. Stouthamer-Loeber (1986). Family factors as correlates and predictors of juvenile conduct problems and delinquency. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and justice (Vol. 7, pp. 29149). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

T. Moffitt (1990). Juvenile delinquency and attention deficit disorder: Boy's developmental trajectories from age 3 to age 15. Child Development, 61, 893910.

C. Rieder , & D. Cicchetti (1989). Organizational perspective on cognitive control functioning and cognitive-affective balance in maltreated children. Developmental Psychology, 25, 382393.

L. Robins (1991). Conduct disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 32, 193212.

M. Rutter (1989). Pathways from childhood to adult life. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 30, 2351.

M. Rutter , H. Macdonald , A. Lecouteur , R. Harrington , P. Bolton , & A. Bailey (1990). Genetic factors in child psychiatric disorders: II. Empirical findings. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 31, 3983.

L. A. Sroufe (1979). The coherence of individual development. American Psychologist, 34, 834841.

J. C. Wakefield (1992). The concept of mental disorder: On the boundary between biological facts and social values. American Psychologist, 47, 373388.

E. Waters , & L. A. Sroufe (1983). Competence as a developmental construct. Developmental Review, 3, 7997.

J. White , T. Moffitt , F. Earls , L. Robins , & P. Silva (1990). How early can we tell?: Predictors of childhood conduct disorder and adolescent delinquency. Criminology, 28, 507533.

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Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
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