The Columbia County Longitudinal Study


L. Rowell Huesmann, Eric F. Dubow, Paul Boxer


Funding Agencies
National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development


Project Summary

The Columbia County Longitudinal Study, pioneered by Leonard Eron, began in 1960 and has been directed at discovering the child and parental factors linked to child aggression. It has culminated so far in the collection of four waves of data over a 40-year span on 856 children who were living in Columbia County, NY, in 1960. The entire population of third graders (“Generation 2” or G2; N = 856; 436 boys, 420 girls) in the county participated in the first wave of this project in 1960 when 85% of the participants’ mothers and 71% of their fathers also were interviewed (“Generation 1” or G1). Follow-up assessments were conducted in 1970 (n = 427) when the participants were approximately 19 years of age; in 1981 (n = 409) when the participants were approximately 30 years of age; and most recently between 1999-2002 (n=523, or 61% of the original sample) when the participants were approximately 48 years of age. We also have interviewed 551 children of the original participants (“Generation 3” or G3): between 1999 and 2002 (average age approximately 19-20). Perhaps the most path-breaking early result concerned the discovered relation between early TV violence viewing and later aggression. This finding has had a substantial impact on the field's understanding of the reality of observational learning as well as on social policy. Additionally, we have found moderate continuity in aggression from age 8 to age 48 for both for males and for females. We are also particularly interested in what contextual (e.g., family relationships, media influences) and personal (e.g., gender, self-concept) factors predict specific later competent outcomes (e.g., educational and occupational success) and problematic outcomes (e.g., aggression, substance use, psychopathology) within and across generations. Currently, we are collaborating with Finnish colleagues who have conducted a similar longitudinal study in that country (the Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Personality and Social Development); the goals are to assess whether similar processes account for continuities and discontinuities within and across generations in each country.