The two dominant theories relating to animal cruelty are critically reviewed. These are (1) the violence graduation hypothesis and (2) the deviance generalization hypothesis. The outcomes indicate very high consistency with the broader antisocial behavior and aggression literature, which is large and very robust. This strongly supports the validity of the animal cruelty theory proposals. Proposals that animal cruelty is one of the earliest indicators of externalizing disorders and that it is a marker of development along a more severe trajectory of antisocial and aggressive behaviors are supported. The implications of these conclusions are discussed.

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