Risk variables and risk mechanisms

Identifying environmental factors that show links with children's adjustment is only the first step in understanding how they function to increase the risk for disorder. A variety of different mechanisms has been proposed here. Some may run through the effects of stress on the biological substrate. Exposure to aggression and hostility may influence children's cognitive processing, leading to the development of negative cognitive sets and attributional biases. (5) In a related way, disrupted early attachments are argued to affect the psychological structures needed for later relationship formation. Adverse experiences may lead to direct increases in negative emotionality, disruptive behaviours, and impulsiveness, or to negative interactional styles that impact on social relationships. And finally, stress may affect children's self-concepts, or compromise their coping skills in ways that increase the risks for disorder. Any given environmental risk may be associated with a number of risk mechanisms, and the processes involved in the persistence of disorder may differ from those involved in its onset.

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