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Changing ecological determinants of conduct problems from early adolescence to early adulthood


Changes in conduct problems from middle school through early adulthood were examined in a sample of 1191 African American and White males and females. Predictors were selected from a number of ecological contexts to examine the relative contribution of family, peer, school, and neighborhood factors to conduct problems during the 7th, 8th, and 11th grade and across transitions in middle school, into high school, and into young adulthood. Almost all contexts made a unique contribution to conduct problems except for the neighborhood setting. The variables that had the most regular influences during each of these periods were Family Consistent Control, Family Discipline Harshness, and Negative Peers. Positive family and positive peer variables had less consistent relations to outcomes. School variables were more influential in middle school than later. Few gender or race differences were found in the patterning of predictors across time. Studies using only one or two settings as predictors of conduct problems, may provide a misleading picture of their impact by excluding other contextual influences.The authors acknowledge the Russell Sage Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the following individuals (listed alphabetically) for support during the preparation of this article: Elaine Belansky, Todd Bartko, Heather Bouchey, Nick Butler, Celina Chatman, Diane Early, Kari Fraser, Leslie Gutman, Katie Jodl, Ariel Kalil, Linda Kuhn, Sarah Lord, Karen McCarthy, Oksana Malanchuk, Alice Michael, Melanie Overby, Robert Roeser, Sherri Steele, Erika Taylor, Janice Templeton, Cindy Winston, and Carol Wong.

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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Arnold Sameroff, Center for Human Growth & Development, 300 N. Ingalls Building, 10th Level, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0406; E-mail:
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