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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Elizabeth A. Harvey

Second Advisor

David H. Arnold

Third Advisor

Matthew C. Davidson

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology | Educational Psychology


Existing research suggests that there is a relation between academic and cognitive ability and externalizing behavior in young children, but the direction of this relation is unclear. The present study tested competing models of the relation between academic and cognitive functioning and behavior problems during early childhood. Participants were 223 children (120 boys, 103 girls) who participated in a longitudinal study from age 3 to 6. A reciprocal model was supported in which early academic and cognitive problems and externalizing behavior predict one another over time, controlling for mothers' education and family stress. When hyperactivity, inattention, and aggression were examined separately with controls, there was evidence that the reciprocal relation was driven primarily by inattention and hyperactivity. No significant gender differences were found. These results suggest that the reciprocal relation between academic and cognitive ability and inattention/hyperactivity is evident early in development, highlighting the need for early assessment and intervention.