Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 2051–2076 | Cite as

Care Orientation in the Teens as a Predictor of Young Adult Psychosocial Adjustment

  • D.  M. Hutchinson
  • J. A. Macdonald
  • W.  T. Hallam
  • R. K. Leung
  • J. W. Toumbourou
  • R. McGee
  • G. Tooley
  • S. A. Hemphill
  • H. Skouteris
  • C. A. Olsson
Research Paper


The transition from adolescence to young adulthood is a watershed period in development that carries risk for poor psychosocial adjustment. It also carries potential for positive transitions into the caregiving roles and responsibilities of adult life. Research to date has predominantly focused on adolescent predictors of problematic rather than positive transitions; yet predictors of the latter hold equal (if not greater) promise for informing health promoting interventions. The purpose of this study was threefold: (1) to use Latent Profile Analysis (LPA) to define patterns of psychosocial adjustment and maladjustment in young adulthood (21-years of age); (2) to examine the unique role of adolescent prosocial behaviour (e.g., volunteering and civic engagement) in promoting adjustment and reducing maladjustment in young adulthood; and, (3) to examine whether protective developmental relationships are maintained after adjustment for other covariates including socio-economic background factors and personality characteristics. Data were drawn from the Victorian cohort of the International Youth Development Study (IYDS; N = 2407), a representative sample of students in Victoria, Australia. Students were assessed in Grade 9 (Mean age = 15-years) and followed up at age 21-years. LPA identified three psychosocial adjustment classes at age 21 defined as: (1) Adjusted (24.8 %); (2) Normative (63.9 %); and, (3) Maladjusted (11.3 %). Adolescent volunteering, belief in a moral order, family opportunities for prosocial behaviour, and commitment to school were associated with enhanced adjustment and reduced maladjustment in young adulthood. Findings highlight the potential benefit of interventions designed to enhance adolescent prosocial behaviours and care orientation in promoting healthy transitions into young adult life.


Wellbeing Psychosocial adjustment Caring Adolescence Young adulthood 



We would like to acknowledge the Australian Unity Centre for Quality of Life, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, and the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) Longitudinal Studies Network (LSN). The authors are grateful for the financial support of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (RO1 DA12140), the National Health and Medical Research Council (Project 491241), and the Australian Research Council (Discovery Projects DP0663371 and DP109574) for the International Youth Development Study. The authors acknowledge the infrastructure funding received by Murdoch Childrens Research Institute from the Victorian State Government through the Operational Infrastructure Support (OIS) Program. The authors wish to express their appreciation and thanks to project staff and participants for their valuable contribution to the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • D.  M. Hutchinson
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • J. A. Macdonald
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • W.  T. Hallam
    • 1
  • R. K. Leung
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • J. W. Toumbourou
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • R. McGee
    • 5
  • G. Tooley
    • 1
  • S. A. Hemphill
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 6
  • H. Skouteris
    • 1
  • C. A. Olsson
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Deakin University, Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development, School of PsychologyBurwoodAustralia
  2. 2.Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteThe Royal Children’s Hospital MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.The University of Melbourne, Department of Paediatrics, The Centre of Adolescent Health, The Royal Children’s Hospital MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.National Drug and Alcohol Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of MedicineUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  6. 6.Learning Sciences Institute Australia and School of PsychologyAustralian Catholic UniversityFitzroyAustralia

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