Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 39, Issue 8, pp 953–966 | Cite as

Predicting Negative Life Outcomes from Early Aggressive–Disruptive Behavior Trajectories: Gender Differences in Maladaptation Across Life Domains

  • Catherine P. Bradshaw
  • Cindy M. Schaeffer
  • Hanno Petras
  • Nicholas Ialongo
Empirical Research


Transactional theories of development suggest that displaying high levels of antisocial behavior early in life and persistently over time causes disruption in multiple life domains, which in turn places individuals at risk for negative life outcomes. We used longitudinal data from 1,137 primarily African American urban youth (49.1% female) to determine whether different trajectories of aggressive and disruptive behavior problems were associated with a range of negative life outcomes in young adulthood. General growth mixture modeling was used to classify the youths’ patterns of aggressive–disruptive behavior across elementary school. These trajectories were then used to predict early sexual activity, early pregnancy, school dropout, unemployment, and drug abuse in young adulthood. The trajectories predicted the number but not type of negative life outcomes experienced. Girls with the chronic high aggression–disruption (CHAD) pattern experienced more negative outcomes than girls with consistently moderate levels, who were at greater risk than nonaggressive–nondisruptive girls. Boys with CHAD and boys with an increasing pattern had equal levels of risk for experiencing negative outcomes. The findings are consistent with transactional models of development and have implications for preventive interventions.


Aggression Trajectories Growth mixture modeling Gender differences Life course persistent Antisocial behavior 



This research was supported by grants to Nicholas Ialongo from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH57005-02A) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA11796-01A1 and P30MH06624). The writing of this article was supported by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the first author (K01CE001333-01). The authors would like to thank Laura Feagans Gould for her comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the first author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine P. Bradshaw
    • 1
  • Cindy M. Schaeffer
    • 2
  • Hanno Petras
    • 3
  • Nicholas Ialongo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public HealthJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Medical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  3. 3.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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