A Test of Three Alternative Hypotheses Regarding the Effects of Early Delinquency on Adolescent Psychosocial Functioning and Substance Involvement

  • W. Alex Mason
  • Julia E. Hitchings
  • Robert J. McMahon
  • Richard L. Spoth


This study compared alternative hypotheses (from general deviance, life course, and developmental psychopathology perspectives) regarding the effects of early adolescent delinquency on psychosocial functioning in family, school, and peer contexts, and on alcohol use. Analyses also examined parent-child negative affective quality, prosocial school orientation, and peer substance use as possible direct predictors of problem substance use. Participants in this longitudinal study, extending from age 11 to age 18, were 429 rural teens (222 girls) and their families. Path model comparisons supported the tenability of a partial mediation model that included mediating pathways and a direct effect of delinquency on alcohol use, as hypothesized by developmental psychopathology. A supplemental analysis controlling for the stability of the family, school, and peer variables revealed that delinquency had less pervasive direct effects on, and a nonsignificant indirect effect through, changes in the mediators over time. Results also showed that peer substance use was a direct positive predictor of problem use.


Delinquency Substance use Parenting School orientation Peer influence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Alex Mason
    • 1
  • Julia E. Hitchings
    • 2
  • Robert J. McMahon
    • 2
  • Richard L. Spoth
    • 3
  1. 1.Social Development Research GroupUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Partnerships in Prevention Science InstituteIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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