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Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology Copyright 1984 by the

1984, Vol. 52, No. 5, 915-916 American Psychological Association, Inc.

Treatment and Generalization Effects of Cognitive-Behavioral

and Goal-Setting Interventions With Aggressive Boys
John E. Lochman Peter R. Burch
Duke University Medical Center Children's Psychiatric Institute
Umstead State Hospital
John F. Curry Louise B. Lampron
Duke University Medical Center Dorothea Dix State Hospital

Seventy-six aggressive boys were assigned to one of four cells consisting of anger
coping, goal setting, anger coping plus goal setting, and a no treatment cell. The
anger-coping intervention groups were school-based secondary prevention efforts
that utilized social problem-solving and cognitive-behavioral techniques. At the
1 -month follow-up testing, the boys who had been in the anger-coping groups had
reduced their disruptive and aggressive behavior in the classroom, had decreased
their aggression at home, and displayed a nonsignificant tendency for improved
perceptions of self-esteem. Other measures were not significantly affected by the

Within a cognitive-behavioral framework, ag- the highest teacher ratings of aggression on the
gression can be conceptualized as a behavioral Missouri Children's Behavior Checklist and were
reaction due in part to distorted and inadequate assigned to the experimental cells on a rotating
cognitive processing of perceived provocations and basis. Teachers were more aware of the specific
frustrations. Because the short-term efficacy of differences between conditions than were parents.
cognitive-behavioral interventions with aggressive The anger-coping groups in the AC and ACGS cells
children has begun to be demonstrated, more met weekly for 12 sessions and focused on increas-
emphasis can focus on generalization issues ad- ing boys' social problem-solving skills, as a sec-
dressing the broadness of the intervention effects, ondary prevention intervention. In the 8-week
and the comparative strength of treatment com- goal-setting treatment, which was a minimal treat-
ponents (Forman, 1980; Hobbs, Moguin, Tyroler, ment intervention, children's weekly goals were
& Lahey, 1980). established in a group, the goals were monitored
The present study used a 2 X 2 factorial design daily by the classroom teacher, and the boys
to compare the separate and combined effects of received contingent reinforcement if appropriate
a cognitive-behavioral condition (Lochman, Nel- goal attainment occurred.
son, & Sims, 1981), and a less intensive goal- Measures were administered prior to the inter-
setting condition. The four experimental cells were vention and were readministered at an average of
anger coping (AC), goal setting (OS), anger coping 4 to 6 weeks following the intervention. The
plus goal setting (ACGS), and an untreated control measures included (a) the Passive Off-Task and
(uc) cell. the combined Disruptive-Aggressive Off-Task Cat-
egories of the Behavior Observation Schedule for
Method Pupils and Teachers (BOSPT; Allen, Chinsky, Lar-
cen, Lochman, & Selinger, 1976), (b) the Aggression
The 76 boys in this study attended eight ele- subscale of the Missouri Children's Behavior
mentary schools and ranged in age from 9 to 12 Checklist (MCBC) completed by parents and teach-
years old. Fifty-three percent of the subjects were ers (Sines, Pauker, Sines, & Owen, 1969), (c) the
black, and the others were white. The subjects had number of alternatives on the Problem Solving
Measures (PSM; Allen et al., 1976), (d) the Coop-
ersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (csi; Allen et al.,
1976), and (e) the boys' social acceptance scores
Acknowledgment is made of the support provided by and peer aggression nominations derived from
the Durham County School System, the Duke University
Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, and the Dur- classmates' sociometric ratings (Allen et al., 1976).
ham Community Guidance Clinic. Interscorer agreement for the BOSPT and the PSM
Requests for reprints should be sent to John E. Loch- was 92% and 83%, respectively. Some of the subjects
man, Box 2906, Duke University Medical Center, Dur- did not have both pretest and follow-up scores for
ham, North Carolina 27710. four of the measures.


Results passive off-task behaviors. The addition of the

goal-setting procedure tended to augment the
Repeated measures analyses of variance were treatment effects in the classroom. As suggested
used with the four dependent variables that did by Forman (1980), treatment components that
not have differences between cells in their pretest emphasize external monitoring and reinforcement
scores. The F score of primary interest was the of behavior in applied classroom settings do appear
Anger Coping X Time interaction effect. The sig- to be useful adjunctive procedures in cognitive-
nificant Anger Coping X Time effects indicate that behavioral interventions.
the children in the anger-coping cells (AC and The anger-coping condition produced generalized
ACGS) displayed significantly more improvement effects that radiated beyond the classroom behavior
over time on the BOSPT Disruptive and Aggressive into the boys' behavior in their home settings.
Off-Task Percentage, F(l, 72) = 5.37, p < .03, and These treated boys also tended to experience more
on the parents' MCBC Aggression scale, F(l, 68) = generalized improvements in their subjective feel-
6.42, p < .02, than did subjects who were not in ings of self-esteem. Despite these indications of
the anger-coping cells. Post hoc cell contrasts on the breadth and strength of the intervention, sig-
change scores found that the anger-coping-plus- nificant changes were not evident in teachers' and
goal-setting subjects significantly reduced their peers' perceptions of the treated boys. This pattern
BOSPT Disruptive and Aggressive Off-Task per- of mixed findings is similar to the results of
centage scores in comparison to subjects in the previous research on cognitive-behavioral and so-
untreated control cell, t(37) = 2.81, p < .01. In cial-skill interventions with children (e.g., Hobbs
comparison to the subjects in the goal-setting cell, et al., 1980), and can be due to limited treatment
the ACGS subjects had reduced their Disruptive effects and to rigid perceptions of the boys' repu-
and Aggressive Off-Task behavior, f(38) = 2.32, tation. Further refinement of this intervention may
p < .05, and MCBC Aggression ratings by their produce stronger social validity and significant
parents, t(35) = 2.24, p < .05, and the AC subjects effects for a larger percentage of children who are
had reduced their parents' MCBC Aggression ratings, treated. To assist in the formative evaluations of
t(35) = 2.45, p < .05. None of the other cell con- these groups, studies can begin to identify which
trasts on the two measures were significant. subject variables and treatment process variables
The anger-coping condition (AC and ACGS) also are related to the level of improvement demon-
had a strong tendency to increase the subjects' csi strated by children.
scores, F(\, 72) = 3.77, p < .06. To further inves-
tigate this trend, the four subscales were examined.
Children in the anger-coping condition had signif-
icantly increased their home-related self-esteem, Allen, G. J., Chinsky, J. M., Larcen, S. W., Lochman,
F(l, 72) = 5.56, p < .03, and tended to increase J. E., & Selinger, H. V. (1976). Community psychology
their general, F(l, 72) = 3.56, p < .07, self-esteem. and the schools: A behaviorally oriented multilevel
There were no significant effects for the social preventive approach. New \brk: Wiley.
acceptance scores. Forman, S. G. (1980). A comparison of cognitive training
and response cost procedures in modifying aggressive
Analyses of covariance on the follow-up BOSPT behavior of elementary school children. Behavior
Passive Off-Task percentage scores, teachers' MCBC Therapy, 11, 594-600.
Aggression scale scores, PSM Alternatives score and Hobbs, S. A., Moguin, L. E., Tyroler, M., & Lahey, B.
sociometric aggressive nomination score, using B. (1980). Cognitive behavior therapy with children:
each measure pretest score as the covariate, were Has clinical utility been demonstrated? Psychological
not significant. However, the anger-coping subjects Bulletin, 87, 147-165.
did have a higher ratio of alternatives involving Lochman, J. E., Nelson, W. M. Ill, & Sims, J. P. (1981).
inhibited aggression, x 2 U, N = 76) = 4.28, A cognitive behavioral program for use with aggressive
p < .05. children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 10,
Sines, J. O., Pauker, J. D., Sines, L. K., & Owen, D. R.
Discussion (1969). Identification of clinically relevant dimensions
of children's behavior. Journal of Consulting and Clin-
The children in the anger-coping intervention ical Psychology, 33, 728-734.
groups displayed significant reductions in disruptive
and aggressive off-task behaviors at the follow-up Received September 13, 1983
observation, but there were no improvements in Revision received March 1, 1984 •