Externalizing behaviors as a risk for unintentional injury in children

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology, Clinical


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Keri J. Brown Kirschman


Previous research suggests that the presence of externalizing behaviors, such as hyperactivity and aggression, may impact the risk of childhood injury (Barton & Schwebel, 2007; Schwebel et al., 2007). However, studies have not examined these factors for preschool-aged children in a home environment. The present study examined the relationship between externalizing behaviors and injury risk behaviors of preschool children in a simulated living room that contained mock hazard items. Temperamental factors (e.g. inhibitory control, anger, activity, high intensity pleasure, and impulsivity) in relation to injury risk were also explored. Data collected from 89 preschool-aged children (43 girls, 46 boys) and their caregivers who participated in a larger faculty-led study (Safety Involving Brothers and Sisters; Brown Kirschman & Dodds) were included in this study. All videos were previously coded for a number of risk behaviors including the child placing their hand on a hazardous item and how long they touched the hazardous item. For this current study, videos were coded for acts of aggression and hyperactivity of the child. Results revealed a positive relationship between aggressive acts in the simulated hazard room and amount of mock hazard items the child touched in the room. Additionally, a negative relationship between inhibitory control and amount of hazards the child touched in the simulated hazard room was found. These results help in identifying child attributes that may increase risk of home injury, which is an important first step in targeting prevention efforts.


Preschool children Wounds and injuries, Play environments Risk assessment, Conduct disorders in children Observations, Risk-taking (Psychology) in children Observations, Clinical Psychology, Psychology, unintentional injury, externalizing behaviors, hyperactivity, aggression, temperament

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Copyright © 2016, author