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Is adolescence-onset antisocial behavior developmentally normative?

  • Glenn I. Roisman (a1), Kathryn C. Monahan (a2), Susan B. Campbell (a3), Laurence Steinberg (a4), Elizabeth Cauffman (a5) and The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network...


Largely because of the influence of Moffitt's useful distinction between adolescence-limited and life-course persistent antisocial behavior, it has become increasingly common to view problem behavior that makes its first appearance in adolescence as developmentally normative. This study prospectively examined the lives of individuals in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development whose patterns of antisocial behavior varied with respect to age of onset and stability from kindergarten through age 15. Consistent with past research, early-onset, persistently deviant youth experienced more contextual adversity and evinced higher levels of intraindividual disadvantages than their peers from infancy through midadolescence. However, relative to youth who never showed significantly elevated antisocial behavior through age 15, children who showed antisocial behavior primarily in adolescence also were more disadvantaged from infancy forward, as were youth who only demonstrated significant externalizing problems in childhood. Findings generally replicated across sex and did not vary as a function of whether antisocial behavior groups were defined using T-scores normed within sex or identified using an empirically driven grouping method applied to raw data.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Glenn I. Roisman, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820; E-mail:


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