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01-05-2013 | Uitgave 4/2013

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 4/2013

Trajectories of Youthful Antisocial Behavior: Categories or Continua?

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 4/2013
Glenn D. Walters, John Ruscio
Belangrijke opmerkingen
The authors would like to thank anonymous reviewers of an earlier version of this paper for their helpful comments. Program code and a user’s manual for the taxometric programs used in this study can be accessed at http://​www.​tcnj.​edu/​~ruscio/​taxometrics.​html.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether qualitatively distinct trajectories of antisocial behavior could be identified in 1,708 children (843 boys, 865 girls) from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth–Child Data (NLSY-C). Repeated ratings were made on the Behavior Problems Index (BPI: Peterson and Zill Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 295–307, 1986) antisocial scale by the mothers of these children when the children were 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 years of age. Scores on three indicators constructed from the six BPI Antisocial items (callousness, aggression, noncompliance) were then analyzed longitudinally (by summing across the rating periods) and cross-sectionally (by testing each individual rating period) in the full sample as well as in subsamples of boys and girls. Results obtained with the mean above minus below a cut (MAMBAC), maximum covariance (MAXCOV), and latent mode factor analysis (L-Mode) taxometric procedures revealed consistent evidence of continuous latent structure despite the fact Growth Mixture Modeling (GMM) and Latent Class Growth Analysis (LCGA) identified between two and eight trajectories, depending on the stopping rule, in the three antisocial indicators. From these results, it is concluded that the structural model underlying these data is better represented as continuous rather than as categorical. The implications of these results for future research on developmental trajectories of antisocial behavior are discussed.

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