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Psychological profiles and adolescent adjustment: A person-centered approach


The association between young adolescents' psychological profiles and their subsequent adjustment was examined in a sample of 606 adolescents (ages 12–13) drawn from the mother–child data set of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Cluster analysis was used to identify distinct groups of youth based on self-regulation, proneness to risk, self-worth, and perceived academic competence. Five replicable clusters were identified corresponding to optimal, average, behavioral risk, low self-regulation, and emotional risk groups. These clusters were associated with distinct patterns of adjustment 4 years later. At ages 16–17, youth in the optimal group tended to report better academic performance, less problem behavior, and less depression than youth in the three risk groups; however, their functioning did not differ significantly from youth in the average group. The three risk groups differed in self-reported depression symptoms and academic performance but not in levels of problem behavior. Differences among the five groups persisted when demographic and contextual variables were controlled. These results support the existence of different groups of youth who follow distinct developmental trajectories and may experience different patterns of adjustment.This research was funded by a grant to M. Raffaelli and L. Crockett from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01-MH62977). We thank Rebecca Colman, Yuh-Ling Shen, Sam Hardy, Rebecca Goodvin, Myesha Albert, Andy Peytchev, Jenenne Geske, Jennifer Bowers, Devan Starks, and Brett Avila for their contributions to the project. We also thank Cal Garbin for his statistical advice and several anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Lisa J. Crockett, Department of Psychology, 238 Burnett Hall, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0308; E-mail:
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