Cross-setting consistency in early adolescent psychopathology: deviant friendships and problem behavior sequelae

T J Dishion
Journal of Personality 2000, 68 (6): 1109-26
This study examines adult reports of externalizing and internalizing psychopathology at home and school in a sample of 224 high-risk adolescent boys and girls (average age 12 years). Four groups of young adolescents were defined, based on the consistency of the teacher and parent Child Behavior Checklist reports: normal, internalizing, externalizing only, and comorbid. Group comparisons revealed the comorbid and externalizing groups were more engaged in a deviant peer group and were observed in higher levels of deviancy training with their friends, compared to other young adolescent groups. In general, elevated levels of arrest, drug use, and sexual promiscuity were associated with cross-setting consistency in externalizing disorders. Comorbid youth, however, showed the highest levels of sexual promiscuity in middle adolescence, compared to all other groups. These findings are consistent with a developmental account of adolescent maladjustment and suggest that emotional disturbance in early adolescence might exacerbate youth vulnerability, especially to deviancy training within friendships.

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