An Examination of Developmental Cascades of Risk from Childhood to Adulthood

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Clark, Heather Jeanne




A robust body of research connects both antisocial behaviour and low self-control in childhood to a number of diverse problems in adulthood including antisocial and criminal behaviour, poor employment, mental health problems, and poor health (Caspi, Wright, Moffitt, & Silva, 1998; Champion, Goodall, & Rutter, 1995; Masten et al., 2010; Kosterman et al., 2010; Moffitt, Caspi, Harrington, & Milne, 2002; Moffitt et al., 2011; Wiesner et al., 2003). Although a significant body of research has identified a large number of risk and protective factors related to antisocial and criminal behaviour, we still lack an understanding of the developmental chain and causal mechanisms that lead to antisocial behaviour and related problems (Day, Wanklyn, & Yessine, 2014; Frick, 2012). The current study applied developmental cascade analysis to examine competing theoretical models regarding the mechanisms that connect parenting, self-control, antisocial behaviour, academic success and internalizing problems from ages 8 to 32. Data included 411 boys from the Cambridge Study of Delinquent Development study (CSDD). Results indicated the relationships between parenting, self-control, antisocial behaviour, and academic success are multidirectional. Parenting impacted antisocial behaviour and antisocial behaviour also impacted parenting from childhood into adolescence. Additionally, the study also found antisocial behaviour impacted self-control whereas there was only limited evidence for self-control impacting antisocial behaviour. While prior research has reported robust associations between self-control and antisocial behaviour (e.g., Pratt & Cullen, 2000), little research has tested potential bidirectional relationships. These results have important implications for theories such as the general theory of crime (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990). Results examining life success at age 32 reported that the relationship between antisocial behaviour at age 14 and antisocial lifestyle at age 32 varied across two measures of self-control: impulsivity and daring. These results suggest that considering different aspects or dimensions of self-control on antisocial behaviour are important.


Psychology - Developmental




Carleton University

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