Maturation is an important event in an organism's life history, with important implications on dynamics of both wild and captive populations. The probabilistic maturation reaction norm (PMRN) has emerged as an important method to describe variation in maturation in wild fish. Because most PMRNs are based on age and size only, it is important to understand limitations of these variables in explaining maturation. We experimentally assessed (i) the sensitivity of age- and size-based PMRNs to unaccounted sources of plasticity, (ii) the role of social environment on maturation and (iii) the significance of estimating PMRNs early and late in the maturation process (initiation and completion of maturation, respectively). We reared male guppies (Poecilia reticulata) under laboratory conditions, subjected to two food levels and three different social cues. We found that growth and social environment affected the maturation in a way that could not be accounted for by their effect on age and size. PMRNs estimated for the initiation stage were less plastic (growth differences and social cues influenced the PMRN shape only little) than those for completion. The initiation of maturation is probably closer to the maturation ‘decision’ and allows determining factors influencing maturation decision most accurately.