The short-term impact of two classroom-based preventive interventions on aggressive and shy behaviors and poor achievement

Lawrence J. Dolan, Sheppard G. Kellam, C. Hendricks Brown, Lisa Werthamer-Larsson, George W. Rebok, Lawrence S. Mayer, Jolene Laudolff, Jaylan S. Turkkan, Carla Ford, Leonard Wheeler

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194 Scopus citations


Two classroom-based preventive interventions were carried out on an epidemiologically defined, varied population of children in a metropolitan area in the United States. This is a report of the short-term impact and specificity of the two interventions from fall through spring of first grade. The first intervention, the Good Behavior Game, was aimed at reducing aggressive behavior and shy behavior. Aggressive behavior has been shown to be an important developmental antecedent in first grade of later delinquency and heavy drug use, particularly when coupled with shy behavior. The second intervention, Mastery Learning, was designed to improve poor reading achievement, which has been shown to be an antecedent for later depressive symptoms, as well as a correlate of aggressive and shy behaviors. Each of the two interventions had a significant and very specific impact only on its own proximal target(s). In addition to main effects, there were theoretically important variations of impacts among subgroups of children. The Good Behavior Game appeared to have a greater impact in reducing aggressive behavior among the more aggressive children. The nature of the impact of Mastery Learning differed by gender, with female high achievers benefiting more from the intervention than female low achievers, and male low achievers benefiting more than male high achievers. Developmental epidemiologically based preventive trials provide a powerful means of addressing questions about etiology and development, particularly around the issue of the malleability of developmental processes. Important questions that future work could test are whether achievement is improved by improving aggressive or shy behaviors and whether aggressive or shy behaviors are improved by improving achievement. Such investigation would inform our understanding of their etiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-345
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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