The transitive sequence of development of antisocial behavior in early childhood: the development of deviant talk
The present study investigated the specific temporal progression, from less to more serious, that 5-6 year old children follow in their deviant talk and behavior during peer interaction. To investigate temporal progressions in deviant talk and behavior, the peer interactions of 267 children were videotaped at three different time points (fall, winter and spring) during the kindergarten school year. Each child’s behavior during peer interaction at each time point was coded into several independent categories of deviancy reflecting different levels of severity. Transitional probability matrices describing temporal changes in both the severity and variety of deviant talk were calculated for the transitions from fall to winter, and from winter to spring. Analyses of these transitional matrices indicated at least some systematic changes in the variety and severity of deviant talk over time. A tendency to remain at the same level or to increase in severity and variety of deviant talk over time appeared to predominate over a pattern of regression in the severity and variety of deviant talk. The observed progressions were somewhat larger for boys than for girls, and occurred earlier in the year for boys than for girls. The present study indicates that the exchange of deviant talk or peer deviancy training occurs and is a dynamic social process as early as the beginning of elementary school. The findings support the potential preventive benefits of interventions that target child deviant talk and peer deviancy training well before the transition to adolescence.
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