Search Results

Author: Martin, Nina Chambers
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Martin, Nina Chambers
Growing Up and Acting Out: Developmental Trajectories Of Externalizing and Delinquent Behaviors in Adolescence
ED. Dissertation, Harvard University, 1998
Cohort(s): Children of the NLSY79
Publisher: UMI - University Microfilms, Bell and Howell Information and Learning
Keyword(s): Adolescent Behavior; Behavioral Problems; Delinquency/Gang Activity; Family Influences; Gender Differences

Externalizing behaviors (e.g., vandalism, stealing) represent a serious threat to the health and welfare of adolescents in this country. In order to design interventions aimed at discouraging these behaviors, psychologists and educators need information about how these behaviors change over time as well as what factors may encourage their cessation. I addressed these questions in my dissertation by analyzing six years of longitudinal data, for a sample of 854 males and 853 females, collected as part of the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Previous studies of externalizing behaviors have been limited in that they have typically investigated only linear associations between family-related predictors and externalizing behaviors, they have most often focussed exclusively on boys, and they have failed to use statistical approaches needed to be able to study individual change over time. I overcame these limitations in my dissertation by using individual growth modeling to study the potential curvilinear effects of family variables on the development of externalizing behaviors in a geographically diverse, mix-gendered sample of adolescents. I found that the shape of the growth trajectory of externalizing behaviors for children in the sample was, on average, nonlinear, beginning at a low level at age 10, curving upward at age 13 and increasing steadily until age 18, and then leveling off. Controlling for race, socioeconomic status, and gender, the level of family cohesion and family rules were linearly associated with the growth of externalizing behaviors such that higher levels of both were associated with lower levels of problem behaviors. The only nonlinear effect of either predictor was that of cohesion on the level of externalizing behaviors, but this effect occurred only in a model without control variables. Neither the effect of cohesion nor rules differed by gender. Gender did have a strong effect on the level and growth rate of externalizing behavioral however. At younger ages girls scored significantly lower than boys on their level of externalizing behavior. Over time, this gender differential decreased, as the level of girls' externalizing behaviors grew at a faster rate than boys' during adolescence, eventually equaling boys' level in late adolescence.
Bibliography Citation
Martin, Nina Chambers. Growing Up and Acting Out: Developmental Trajectories Of Externalizing and Delinquent Behaviors in Adolescence. ED. Dissertation, Harvard University, 1998.