Development and Psychopathology

Regular Articles

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

Kathryn C. Monahana1 c1, Laurence Steinberga2, Elizabeth Cauffmana3 and Edward P. Mulveya4

a1 University of Pittsburgh

a2 Temple University

a3 University of California, Irvine

a4 University of Pittsburgh Medical Center


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.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Kathryn C. Monahan, Department of Psychology, Sennott Square, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; E-mail:


  This project was supported by funds from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the National Institute of Justice, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant R01DA019697), the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and the Arizona Governor's Justice Commission. We are grateful for their support. The content of this paper is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of these agencies.