Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Patrick S. Malone


In the last few decades, treatment of problem behaviors in children and adolescents has targeted the entire family rather than more traditional methods that targeted the individual child. This approach is rooted in family systems and other ecological research and theory. The social sciences have maintained a long history of inquiry into the relations among social support, stress, and psychopathology. However, few of these inquiries include child outcomes, such as behavior problems, as the psychopathological outcome. Even fewer studies have utilized longitudinal models that have the capacity to accurately reflect the developmental process of stress and psychopathology. In the current study, I conducted a secondary data analysis to analyze data from 585 families collected for the Child Development Project. I analyzed the process of parental stress, measured by a major life events index, as well as the process of child behavior problems, measured by the Aggressive Behaviors subscale of the Externalizing scale of Achenbach’s Child Behavior Checklist. Finally, I incorporated perceived social support as the predictor of child aggression and as a moderator of the relation between parental stress and child aggression in order to test the stress buffering and main effects hypotheses. I was unable to support the hypothesis that social support would have a main effect on aggression. Due to empirical underindentification, I was unable to estimate a model that included social support as a buffer between stress and aggression. The investigation did, however, reveal noteworthy results regarding the type of longitudinal models which best fit the stressors construct and the aggression construct. Results of this study support the specification of aggression and life events stressors via autoregressive latent trajectory models.