The effect of the maturity gap on delinquency and drug use over the life course: A genetically sensitive longitudinal design

Joseph L. Nedelec, Insun Park, Ian A. Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose Relatively few studies have assessed Moffitt's claims regarding the etiology of the offending groups in her taxonomic theory. This gap is especially evident regarding adolescence-limited (AL) offending where empirical analyses of the maturity gap (the disjunction between biological and social maturity during adolescence) have produced mixed findings. Additionally, genetically sensitive analyses of the effect of the maturity gap on delinquency is entirely lacking from the literature. The current study provides such an analysis. Methods Using a sample of monozygotic (MZ) twins (NIndviduals = 524; NTwin pairs = 262) the current study addresses these gaps in the literature by assessing the influence of the maturity gap, parental conflict, and other theoretically relevant variables on delinquency and substance use in a sex-differentiated longitudinal analysis of MZ difference scores. Results Findings illustrated minimal influence of the maturity gap, parental conflict, and low self-control on delinquency and substance use in adolescence and adulthood. However, discordance in exposure to delinquent peers was associated with delinquency and substance use in adolescence but with little long-term effect. Conclusion Overall, the findings provide mixed support for Moffitt's ideas and illustrate the confounding effects of genetic factors in assessments of the etiology of antisocial behavior and tests of criminological theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-99
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Volume47
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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