, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 157-167

Pubertal Timing and Adolescent Adjustment and Behavior: Conclusions Vary by Rater

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The effects of pubertal timing on adolescent development have been studied since the late 1930s, yet the research has yielded inconsistent findings. One reason for such inconsistency may be the source of the rating. The purpose of this report was to examine whether pubertal timing by self-report (SR), parent report (PR), or physical exam (PE) predicted the same aspects of adjustment and behavior problems. Fifty-two girls, age 9–14 years (M = 12.0 ± 1.6) and 56 boys, age 10–15 years (M = 12.7 ± 1.3) and their parents were enrolled in the longitudinal study. Parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist and adolescents completed the Offer Self-Image Questionnaire. Using regression, later maturing boys and girls had more adjustment and behavior problems than on-time or earlier maturers in cross-sectional analyses. Longitudinally, there were few significant relationships between pubertal timing at the first occasion of measurement and adjustment and behavior problems 1 year later. Overlap in correlates of adjustment and behavior problems across raters was not always found. More significant findings were evident between pubertal timing and adjustment and behavior problems for boys than for girls and more for ratings by PE than by SR or PR. Caution appears in order when drawing conclusions about pubertal timing and adolescent behavior when rater of pubertal development or timing of rating varies across studies. The selection of who rates pubertal development and the timing of the ratings should be based on the underlying theoretical framework guiding the hypotheses.