Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Clinical.


Casey, J.




The purpose of the current study was to build upon prior efforts to produce a meaningful typology of preschool children's behaviour problems. Distinct empirically-derived subtypes were identified through the use of cluster analytic techniques and the reliability and validity of generated subtypes was tested. Archival data were collected on a sample of 268 children, aged 2 1/2 to 5-years old, who were referred for an initial screening to determine their suitability for an Assessment/Day treatment program within a preschool children's mental health centre. Parents of the referred children had completed the Parent Rating Scales for Preschool Children from the Behavior Assessment System for Children, (BASC, PRS-P; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 1992). To evaluate multivariate patterns of preschool children's behaviour problems, the sample was randomly split in half and a two-step cluster analysis was performed on each half-sample. This procedure yielded five distinct and reliable subtypes of preschool children's behaviour problems. Identified subtypes included profiles characterized As: Normal, Attention Problems, Disruptive Behaviour Problems, Disruptive Behaviour Problems/Atypical, and Mixed internalizing and externalizing problems. The identification of the Disruptive Behaviour Problems/Atypical and Mixed subtypes in the current clinical sample is of particular interest as they represent a group of the most severely disturbed children that have not been identified in previous subtyping investigations of preschool children's behaviour problems. Ratings of the preschooler's adaptive and social skills using the BASC Adaptive Scales, as well as ratings of parental stress using the Parenting Stress Index (PSI; Abidin, 1995), were chosen as external variables to assess the distinctiveness of derived subtypes. A series of between subjects multivariate analyses indicated significant group differences on both the BASC Adaptive Scales and PSI scales between the derived subtypes. Taken together, these findings provide evidence for the reliability and validity of the subtypes identified in the present study and they are consistent with the findings of previous subtyping investigations focussing on school-aged children. In addition, the results of the current study support a multidimensional conceptualization of psycho-pathology in preschoolers. Future research should be aimed at replication of these subtypes in other larger clinical samples of preschool children, including those referred to less intensive treatment programs (e.g., outpatient mental health centers). In addition, determining clinical correlates of these subtypes and further validating them with studies using multiple informants is a necessary next step.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis2003 .B44. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 64-10, Section: B, page: 5206. Adviser: Joseph Casey. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2003.