Objective: We investigated in a high-risk sample the differential impact of biological and psychosocial risk factors on antisocial behaviour pathways.
Method: One hundred and thirty-eight boys and 155 girls born at differing degrees of obstetric and psychosocial risk were examined from birth until adolescence. Childhood temperament was assessed by a highly-structured parent-interview and standardized behavioural observations, adolescent temperament was measured by self-report. Neurodevelopmental variables were assessed by age-specific developmental tests. Emotional and behaviour problems were measured at the ages of 8 and 15 by the Achenbach scales.
Results: In both genders, psychosocial adversity and early self-control temperament were strongly associated with early-onset persistent (EOP) antisocial behaviour. Psychosocial adversity and more severe externalizing problems differentiated the EOP from childhood-limited (CL) pathway. In girls, adolescent-onset (AO) antisocial behaviour was strongly associated with novelty seeking at 15 years.
Conclusion: Our findings emphasize the need for early support and intervention in psychosocially disadvantaged families.