Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Instantiating the multiple levels of analysis perspective in a program of study on externalizing behavior

  • Theodore P. Beauchaine (a1) and Lisa M. Gatzke-Kopp (a2)

During the last quarter century, developmental psychopathology has become increasingly inclusive and now spans disciplines ranging from psychiatric genetics to primary prevention. As a result, developmental psychopathologists have extended traditional diathesis–stress and transactional models to include causal processes at and across all relevant levels of analysis. Such research is embodied in what is known as the multiple levels of analysis perspective. We describe how multiple levels of analysis research has informed our current thinking about antisocial and borderline personality development among trait impulsive and therefore vulnerable individuals. Our approach extends the multiple levels of analysis perspective beyond simple Biology × Environment interactions by evaluating impulsivity across physiological systems (genetic, autonomic, hormonal, neural), psychological constructs (social, affective, motivational), developmental epochs (preschool, middle childhood, adolescence, adulthood), sexes (male, female), and methods of inquiry (self-report, informant report, treatment outcome, cardiovascular, electrophysiological, neuroimaging). By conducting our research using any and all available methods across these levels of analysis, we have arrived at a developmental model of trait impulsivity that we believe confers a greater understanding of this highly heritable trait and captures at least some heterogeneity in key behavioral outcomes, including delinquency and suicide.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Theodore P. Beauchaine, Department of Psychology, Washington State University, PO Box 644820, Pullman, WA 99164; E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

G. J. Asmundson , & M. B. Stein (1994). Vagal attenuation in panic disorder: An assessment of parasympathetic nervous system function and subjective reactivity to respiratory manipulations. Psychosomatic Medicine, 56, 187193.

T. P. Beauchaine (2009). The role of biomarkers and endophenotypes in prevention and treatment of psychopathological disorders. Biomarkers in Medicine, 3, 13.

T. P. Beauchaine (2012). Physiological markers of emotional and behavioral dysregulation in externalizing psychopathology. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 77, 7986.

T. P. Beauchaine , J. Gartner , & B. Hagen (2000). Comorbid depression and heart rate variability as predictors of aggressive and hyperactive symptom responsiveness during inpatient treatment of conduct-disordered, ADHD boys. Aggressive Behavior, 26, 425441.

T. P. Beauchaine , L. Gatzke-Kopp , & H. K. Mead (2007). Polyvagal theory and developmental psychopathology: Emotion dysregulation and conduct problems from preschool to adolescence. Biological Psychology, 74, 174184.

T. P. Beauchaine , J. Hong , & P. Marsh (2008). Sex differences in autonomic correlates of conduct problems and aggression. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 47, 788796.

C. Sauder , T. P. Beauchaine , L. M. Gatzke-Kopp , K. E. Shannon , & E. Aylward (2012). Neuroanatomical correlates of heterotypic comorbidity in externalizing youth. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 41, 346352.

D. F. Becker , T. H. McGlashan , & C. M. Grilo (2006). Exploratory factor analysis of borderline personality disorder criteria in hospitalized adolescents. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 47, 99105.

S. L. Brenner , T. P. Beauchaine , & P. D. Sylvers (2005). A comparison of psychophysiological and self-report measures of BAS and BIS activation. Psychophysiology, 42, 108115.

J. L. Bubier , D. A. G. Drabick , & T. Breiner (2009). Autonomic functioning moderates the relations between contextual factors and externalizing behaviors among inner-city children. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 500510.

S. B. Campbell , D. S. Shaw , & M. Gilliom (2000). Early externalizing behavior problems: Toddlers and preschoolers at risk for later maladjustment. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 467488.

A. Caspi , J. McClay , T. E. Moffitt , J. Mill , J. Martin , I. W. Craig , (2002). Role of genotype in the cycle of violence in maltreated children. Science, 297, 851854.

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

D. Cicchetti , & G. Dawson (Eds.). (2002). Multiple levels of analysis [Special Issue]. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 417666.

P. M. Cole , S. E. Martin , & T. A. Dennis (2004). Emotion regulation as a scientific construct: Methodological challenges and directions for child development research. Child Development, 75, 317333.

D. F. Connor (2002). Preschool attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A review of prevalence, diagnosis, neurobiology, and stimulant treatment. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 23, S1S9.

S. E. Crowell , T. P. Beauchaine , R. C. J. Hsiao , C. A. Vasilev , M. Yaptangco , M. M. Linehan , (2012). Differentiating adolescent self-injury from adolescent depression: Possible implications for borderline personality development. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40, 4557.

S. E. Crowell , T. P. Beauchaine , & M. Linehan (2009). The development of borderline personality: Extending Linehan's theory. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 495510.

T. J. Dishion , J. McCord , & F. Poulin (1999). When interventions harm. American Psychologist, 54, 755764.

M. El-Sheikh (2005). Does poor vagal tone exacerbate child maladjustment in the context of parental problem drinking? A longitudinal examination. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114, 735741.

M. El-Sheikh , J. Harger , & S. M. Whitson (2001). Exposure to interparental conflict and children's adjustment and physical health: The moderating role of vagal tone. Child Development, 72, 16171636.

L. M. Gatzke-Kopp (2011) The canary in the coal mine: The sensitivity of mesolimbic dopamine to environmental adversity during development. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 35, 794803.

L. Gatzke-Kopp , & T. P. Beauchaine (2007a). Prenatal nicotine exposure and the development of conduct disorder: Direct and passive effects. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 38, 255269.

L. M. Gatzke-Kopp , T. P. Beauchaine , K. E. Shannon , J. Chipman , A. P. Fleming , S. E. Crowell , (2009). Neurological correlates of reward responding in adolescents with and without externalizing behavior disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, 203213.

L. M. Gatzke-Kopp , A. Raine , R. Loeber , M. Stouthamer-Loeber , & S. R. Steinhauer (2004). Serious delinquent behavior, sensation seeking, and electrodermal arousal, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 477486.

P. D. Hastings , J. N. Nuselovici , W. T. Utendale , J. Coutya , K. E. McShane , & C. Sullivan (2008). Applying the polyvagal theory to children's emotion regulation: Social context, socialization, and adjustment. Biological Psychology, 79, 229306.

S. P. Hinshaw (1994). Attention deficits and hyperactivity in children. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

C. B. Holroyd , & M. G. H. Coles (2002). The neural basis of human error processing: Reinforcement learning, dopamine, and the error-related negativity. Psychological Review, 109, 679709.

C. Hooper , M. Luciana , H. M. Conklin , & R. Yarger (2004). Adolescents’ performance on the Iowa Gambling Task: Implications for the development of decision-making and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Developmental Psychology, 40, 11481158.

P. S. Jensen , S. P. Hinshaw , H. C. Kraemer , N. Lenora , J. H. Newcorn , H. B. Abikoff , (2001). ADHD comorbidity findings from the MTA study: Comparing comorbid subgroups. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 147158.

R. Loeber , & D. Hay (1997). Key issues in the development of aggression and violence from childhood to early adulthood. Annual Review of Psychology, 48, 371410.

D. R. Lynam , A. Caspi , T. E. Moffitt , P. H. Wikström , R. Loeber , & S. Novak (2000). The interaction between impulsivity and neighborhood context in offending: The effects of impulsivity are stronger in poorer neighborhoods. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 563574.

M. H. Meier , W. S. Slutske , A. C. Heath , & N. G. Martin (2009). The role of harsh discipline in explaining sex differences in conduct disorder: A study of opposite sex twin pairs. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 653664.

S. W. Porges (2003). The polyvagal theory: Phylogenetic contributions to social behavior. Physiology & Behavior, 79, 503513.

S. W. Porges (2007). The polyvagal perspective. Biological Psychology, 74, 116143.

A. Raine (2002). Biosocial studies of antisocial and violent behavior in children and adults: A review. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 311326.

M. Richter , & G. H. E. Gendolla (2009). The heart contracts to reward: Monetary incentives and pre-ejection period. Psychophysiology, 46, 451457.

J. Rottenberg (2007). Cardiac vagal control in depression: A critical analysis. Biological Psychology, 74, 200211.

J. Rottenberg , F. H. Wilhelm , J. J. Gross , & I. H. Gotlib (2002). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia as a predictor of outcome in major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 71, 265272.

D. Shaffer , P. Fisher , C. P. Lucas , K. Mina , & M. E. Schwab-Stone (2000). NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children version IV (NIMH DISC-IV): Description, differences from previous versions, and reliability of some common diagnoses. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 39, 2838.

K. E. Shannon , C. Sauder , T. P. Beauchaine , & L. Gatzke-Kopp (2009). Disrupted effective connectivity between the medial frontal cortex and the caudate in adolescent boys with externalizing behavior disorders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 36, 11411157.

L. A. Sroufe , & M. Rutter (1984). The domain of developmental psychopathology. Child Development, 55, 1729.

J. F. Thayer , B. H. Friedman , & T. D. Borkovec (1996). Autonomic characteristics of generalized anxiety disorder and worry. Biological Psychiatry, 39, 255266.

C. A. Vasilev , S. E. Crowell , T. P. Beauchaine , H. K. Mead , & L. M. Gatzke-Kopp (2009). Correspondence between physiological and self-report measures of emotion dysregulation: A longitudinal investigation of youth with and without psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 13571364.

C. Webster-Stratton , M. J. Reid , & T. P. Beauchaine (2011a). Combining parent and child training for young children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 40, 191203.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 56 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 243 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.