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Social competence, externalizing, and internalizing behavioral adjustment from early childhood through early adolescence: Developmental cascades

  • Marc H. Bornstein (a1), Chun-Shin Hahn (a1) and O. Maurice Haynes (a1)


This study used a three-wave longitudinal design to investigate developmental cascades among social competence and externalizing and internalizing behavioral adjustment in a normative sample of 117 children seen at 4, 10, and 14 years. Children, mothers, and teachers provided data. A series of nested path analysis models was used to determine the most parsimonious and plausible cascades across the three constructs over and above their covariation at each age and stability across age. Children with lower social competence at age 4 years exhibited more externalizing and internalizing behaviors at age 10 years and more externalizing behaviors at age 14 years. Children with lower social competence at age 4 years also exhibited more internalizing behaviors at age 10 years and more internalizing behaviors at age 14 years. Children who exhibited more internalizing behaviors at age 4 years exhibited more internalizing behaviors at age 10 years and more externalizing behaviors at age 14 years. These cascades among social competence and behavioral adjustment obtained independent of child intelligence and maternal education and social desirability of responding.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Marc H. Bornstein, Child and Family Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Suite 8030, 6705 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892-7971; E-mail:


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