Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Adolescence

pp 1464-1469

Date:

Internalizing and Externalizing Problems

  • Maria FornsAffiliated withDepartment of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatments, University of Barcelona Email author 
  • , Judit AbadAffiliated withDepartment of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatments, University of Barcelona
  • , Teresa KirchnerAffiliated withDepartment of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatments, University of Barcelona

Overview

This essay delineates the main characteristics of internalizing and externalizing problems. Internalizing problems are described as inner-directed and generating distress in the individual, while externalizing problems are described as outer-directed and generating discomfort and conflict in the surrounding environment. Also examined are the influences of developmental changes as well as gender and cross-cultural differences on these dimensions during adolescence. Finally, these dimensions are related to personality traits and coping strategies, in this regard common and specific relations are pointed out.

Characterization of Internalizing and Externalizing Problems

Adolescent maladjustment has been frequently dichotomized into two syndromes referred to as internalizing and externalizing problems. In the 1960s, Achenbach and colleagues, a paradigmatic research group on adolescence psychopathology, proposed an ori ...

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