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NCJ Number: 204611 Find in a Library
Title: Individual Stability of Antisocial Behavior From Childhood to Adulthood: Testing the Stability Postulate of Moffitt's Developmental Theory
Journal: Criminology  Volume:41  Issue:3  Dated:August 2003  Pages:593-609
Author(s): Andrea G. Donker; Wilma H. Smeenk; Peter H. van der Laan; Frank C. Verhulst
Editor(s): Robert J. Bursik Jr.
Date Published: August 2003
Page Count: 17
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study presents a test of Moffit’s 1993 developmental theory, a prediction on the stability of longitudinal antisocial behavior, from childhood to adulthood.
Abstract: In this study, a test on the stability postulate or assumption of the developmental theory presented by Moffit in 1993 was conducted. Moffit states that if her theory on life-course persistent and adolescence-limited delinquents were true, the stability of individual antisocial behavior should be greater between childhood and adulthood, in comparison with the stability between childhood and adolescence or adolescence and adulthood. In order to test Moffitt’s prediction on the longitudinal stability of antisocial behavior, this study conducted a logistic regression analysis and compared odds ratios that represented the stability of antisocial behavior over 6-years-old (childhood to adolescence) with those representing stability over 14-years-old (childhood to adulthood). In this study, a higher odds ratio indicated that subjects with a deviant score on antisocial behavior in childhood would show a higher risk of antisocial behavior in adolescence or adulthood. Higher odd ratios implied greater stability over the years. Aggressive (overt) and non-aggressive (covert) antisocial behaviors were measured when subjects were 6- to 11-years-old and at follow-ups when they were 12- to 17-years-old and 20- to 25-years-old. Results violated the longitudinal law, but only with regard to overt behavior in adolescence or adulthood, not when covert behavior was the outcome variable. With regards to overt behavior, the study corroborated the stability postulate, one of the basic assumptions of Moffitt’s developmental theory. It supports the idea that a minority of the general population consists of a group of persistent delinquents exhibiting disruptive behavior from an early age and these individuals are obscured in analyses on overt behavior during adolescence by others who desist from such behavior after entering adulthood. For covert behavior, the results contradicted the postulate indicating that an alteration is required to the theoretical assumption on the age-range when adolescence-limited offenders are expected to desist. The prevalence of covert behavior in adulthood was only slightly smaller than the prevalence in adolescence. The majority of adolescent offenders would appear to have desisted from overt behavior, but not from covert behavior by the age of 20- to 25-years-old. Although Moffit’s theory provides some rationale for temporarily involved delinquents desisting from antisocial behavior, further studies of delinquency in emerging adulthood are needed to pinpoint specific factors that could explain why desistance from overt behavior does occur in this phase in the life course but desistance from covert behavior does not. References
Main Term(s): Developmental criminology
Index Term(s): Behavior patterns; Correlation of delinquency to adult crime; Crime analysis; Crime patterns; Crime prediction; Crime rate studies; Criminology; Longitudinal studies
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