Aggression and intentionality in narrative responses to conflict and distress story stems: An investigation of boys with disruptive behaviour problems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Jonathan Hill
  • Peter Fonagy
  • Gillian Lancaster
  • Nichaela Broyden


In this study we examined whether antisocial boys show evidence of a reduced interpersonal interpretation of events (intentionality) specifically in story stem responses to social challenges that provoke fear and distress responses. Two conflict and two distress stems were administered to 5-8 year old boys, 41 referred for disruptive behaviour problems and 25 non-referred boys. Raters blind to group membership scored dysregulated aggression and intentionality from transcripts of story responses. Referred boys had elevated aggression and lower intentionality scores across all stems compared to non-referred. However, there was a story type by group interaction; referred boys had substantially lowered intentionality in response to the distress stems, but not the conflict stems. Avoidant strategies that reduce threat related anxiety or fear also contribute to disruptive behaviour problems.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-237
Number of pages14
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007