Objective: This study explores the differences in the association between three
different types of aggression (reactive aggression, power-related proactive aggression and affiliation-
related proactive aggression) and emotional and conduct problems between early
adolescents with immigrant and non-immigrant backgrounds in Norway.
Methods: The sample comprised 1759 early adolescents in fifth to eighth grade (10- to 15-
year-olds). The proportion of early adolescent immigrants with two foreign-born parents was
862, and 897 participants were adolescents with two Norwegian-born parents. The gender
distribution was similar in the immigrant and non-immigrant samples, 48.2% boys and
49.5% girls. The mean age was 11.6 years (SD 1.25) for immigrant boys, 11.7 (SD 1.29) for
non-immigrant boys, 11.6 (SD = 1.25) for immigrant girls, and 11.8 (SD = 1.27) for nonimmigrant
girls. Data were collected via self-report assessments.
Results: A multigroup structural equation model revealed that the effects of reactive and
proactive aggression were different for conduct and emotional problems. Only reactive and
power-related proactive aggression was significantly associated with conduct problems, and
effect sizes were independent of immigrant status. The effects of reactive and power-related
proactive aggression on emotional problems were stronger for non-immigrant early adolescents,
while the effects of affiliation-related proactive aggression were stronger for immigrant-
background early adolescents.
Conclusion: A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the associations between
aggression and emotional problems and the variation between immigrant and nonimmigrant
early adolescents can shed light on the etiology of mental health and behavioral
problems. The importance of such knowledge in designing interventions targeting aggression
among early adolescents in multicultural contexts is discussed.