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Keywords:

  • antisocial behavior;
  • trajectories;
  • emerging adulthood;
  • developmental adaptation;
  • accounting for change

Abstract

Different trajectories of antisocial behavior in childhood and adolescence have been identified by several researchers. However, more needs to be known about the development of antisocial behavior in adulthood and about factors that account for continuity and change. In this study, we investigated the developmental course into adulthood of different trajectories of antisocial behavior in childhood and adolescence. Second, we examined the role of developmental adaptation in emerging adulthood in accounting for the continuity and change of antisocial behavior. The participants (N = 162) were drawn from an ongoing 28-year longitudinal study. Trajectory groups (EOP: Early Onset/Persistent, n = 30; AO: Adolescent Onset, n = 32; Other, n = 100) were based on measures of externalizing behavior assessed at six time points in childhood and adolescence. Through interviews and questionnaires in adulthood, the quality of romantic relationships and the participants' work ethic (age 23), duration of unemployment (between ages 23 and 26 years), the level of externalizing problems (ages 23 and 26), and the number of antisocial personality disorder symptoms (age 28) were assessed. Results indicated that individuals in the EOP group showed the highest levels of antisocial behavior throughout emerging and early adulthood. Negative experiences in the work and romantic relationship domains was related to the continuity of antisocial behavior in the EOP group. For the AO group, a shorter duration of unemployment was related to lower levels of antisocial behavior. This study shows that early history plays an important role in the development of antisocial behavior and in the way developmental adaptation in emerging adulthood accounts for continuity and change of antisocial behavior. Aggr. Behav. 39:131–140, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.