Externalizing behaviors of low income and high income preschool children: a study of income as a predictor of observer and teacher ratings of externalizing behaviors

Dunbar, Angelica
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University of Delaware
The present study examined the association between income and externalizing behaviors in preschool children based on observer and teacher reports of behavior. We assessed 32 children of lower income and 25 children of higher income using the Direct Observation Form (DOF) and the Caregiver-Teacher Report Form (C-TRF). Using independent-samples T-tests, we examined the degree to which income predicted reports of externalizing behaviors in children as measured by each method. Additionally, we examined systematic discrepancies between teacher ratings and independent observers’ data for children of lower income families compared to children of higher income families. We hypothesized and found an inverse relationship between income and externalizing behaviors and additionally a lower inter-informant reliability between observers and teachers in the lower income population. Implications call for preventive programs designed to help children manage behavior problems and increasing teacher training on the accurate observation and assessment of the problem behaviors of young children at risk for psychopathology.