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Males on the life-course-persistent and adolescence-limited antisocial pathways: Follow-up at age 26 years

  • TERRIE E. MOFFITT (a1) (a2) (a3), AVSHALOM CASPI (a1) (a2) (a3), HONALEE HARRINGTON (a1) (a2) (a3) and BARRY J. MILNE (a1) (a2) (a3)
  • Published online: 01 March 2002

This article reports a comparison on outcomes of 26-year-old males who were defined several years ago in the Dunedin longitudinal study as exhibiting childhood-onset versus adolescent-onset antisocial behavior and who were indistinguishable on delinquent offending in adolescence. Previous studies of these groups in childhood and adolescence showed that childhood-onset delinquents had inadequate parenting, neurocognitive problems, undercontrolled temperament, severe hyperactivity, psychopathic personality traits, and violent behavior. Adolescent-onset delinquents were not distinguished by these features. Here followed to age 26 years, the childhood-onset delinquents were the most elevated on psychopathic personality traits, mental-health problems, substance dependence, numbers of children, financial problems, work problems, and drug-related and violent crime, including violence against women and children. The adolescent-onset delinquents at 26 years were less extreme but elevated on impulsive personality traits, mental-health problems, substance dependence, financial problems, and property offenses. A third group of men who had been aggressive as children but not very delinquent as adolescents emerged as low-level chronic offenders who were anxious, depressed, socially isolated, and had financial and work problems. These findings support the theory of life-course-persistent and adolescence-limited antisocial behavior but also extend it. Findings recommend intervention with all aggressive children and with all delinquent adolescents, to prevent a variety of maladjustments in adult life.

Corresponding author
T. E. Moffitt, SGDP Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, 111 Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK; E-mail:
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Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
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