Development and Psychopathology



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


TERRIE E. MOFFITT a1a2a3c1, AVSHALOM CASPI a1a2a3, HONALEE HARRINGTON a1a2a3 and BARRY J. MILNE a1a2a3
a1 University of Wisconsin, Madison
a2 Institute of Psychiatry, London
a3 University of Otago, New Zealand

Abstract

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.


Correspondence:
c1 T. E. Moffitt, SGDP Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, 111 Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK; E-mail: t.moffitt@iop.kcl.ac.uk.