Empirical Research

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 39, Issue 7, pp 751-763

First online:

Trajectories of Positive and Negative Behaviors from Early- to Middle-Adolescence

  • Selva Lewin-BizanAffiliated withInstitute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University Email author 
  • , Alicia Doyle LynchAffiliated withInstitute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University
  • , Kristen FayAffiliated withInstitute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University
  • , Kristina SchmidAffiliated withInstitute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University
  • , Caitlin McPherranAffiliated withBoston College
  • , Jacqueline V. LernerAffiliated withBoston College
  • , Richard M. LernerAffiliated withInstitute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University

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Abstract

Although the positive youth development (PYD) model initially assumed inverse links between indicators of PYD and of risk/problem behaviors, empirical work in adolescence has suggested that more complex associations exist between trajectories of the two domains of functioning. To clarify the PYD model, this study assessed intraindividual change in positive and problematic indicators across Grades 5–10, and the links between these trajectories of development, among 2,516 participants from the 4-H Study of PYD (58.1% females; 64.9% European American, 7.0% African American, 12.3% Latino/a American, 2.6% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 1.8% Native American, 3.0% multiethnic-racial, and 8.4% with inconsistent race/ethnicity across waves). Results from person-centered analyses indicated that most youth clustered in the high trajectories of positive indicators and in the low trajectories of the negative ones. Consistent with past research, overlap between trajectories of positive and negative behaviors was found. These results suggest that theory and application need to accommodate to variation in the links between positive and problematic developmental trajectories.

Keywords

Early- to middle-adolescence Positive youth development Developmental trajectories Person-centered analysis Dual-trajectory analysis