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Psychosocial (im)maturity from adolescence to early adulthood: Distinguishing between adolescence-limited and persisting antisocial behavior

  • Kathryn C. Monahan (a1), Laurence Steinberg (a2), Elizabeth Cauffman (a3) and Edward P. Mulvey (a4)

In the psychological tradition, desistance from antisocial behavior is viewed as the product of psychosocial maturation, including increases in the ability to control impulses, consider the implications of one's actions on others, delay gratification in the service of longer term goals, and resist the influences of peers. The present study investigates how individual variability in the development of psychosocial maturity is associated with desistance from antisocial behavior in a sample of 1,088 serious juvenile offenders followed from adolescence to early adulthood (ages 14–25). We find that psychosocial maturity continues to develop to the midtwenties and that different developmental patterns of maturation are found among those who desist and those who persist in antisocial behavior. Compared to individuals who desisted from antisocial behavior, youths who persisted exhibited diminished development of psychosocial maturity. Moreover, earlier desistance compared to later desistance is linked to greater psychosocial maturity, suggesting that there is an association between desistance from antisocial behavior and normative increases in psychosocial maturity.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Kathryn C. Monahan, Department of Psychology, Sennott Square, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; E-mail:
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Development and Psychopathology
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