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Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy

By Terrie Moffitt | Psychological Review | October 1993

Abstract
Presents a dual taxonomy to reconcile 2 incongruous facts about antisocial behavior: (1) It shows impressive continuity over age, but (2) its prevalence changes dramatically over age, increasing almost 10-fold temporarily during adolescence. This article suggests that delinquency conceals 2 distinct categories of individuals, each with a unique natural history and etiology: A small group engages in antisocial behavior of one sort or another at every life stage, whereas a larger group is antisocial only during adolescence. According to the theory of life-course-persistent antisocial behavior, children’s neuropsychological problems interact cumulatively with their criminogenic environments across development, culminating in a pathological personality. According to the theory of adolescence-limited antisocial behavior, a contemporary maturity gap encourages teens to mimic antisocial behavior in ways that are normative and adjustive.

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