Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 971–990 | Cite as

Profiles of Problematic Behaviors Across Adolescence: Covariations with Indicators of Positive Youth Development

  • Miriam R. Arbeit
  • Sara K. Johnson
  • Robey B. Champine
  • Kathleen N. Greenman
  • Jacqueline V. Lerner
  • Richard M. Lerner
Empirical Research


Previous analyses of data from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development (PYD) have examined concurrent trajectories of positive development and risk/problem behaviors among adolescents, finding complex and not necessarily inverse relationships among them. In this article, we expand on prior research by employing a person-centered approach to modeling risk behaviors, assessing development from approximately 6th grade through 12th grade among 4,391 adolescents (59.9 % female). Latent profiles involving the problematic behaviors of delinquency, depressive symptoms, substance use, sexual activity, disordered eating behaviors, and bullying were then assessed for concurrent relationships with the Five Cs of PYD: Competence, Confidence, Character, Caring, and Connection. We found six latent profiles, based primarily on mental health, aggression, and alcohol use, with significant differences in Confidence levels among many of the profiles, as well as some differences in the four other Cs. We discuss directions for future research and implications for application to youth policies and programs.


Positive youth development Risk behaviors Profile analysis 



This research was supported in part by grants from the National 4-H Council, the Altria Corporation, the Thrive Foundation for Youth, and the John Templeton Foundation.

Author contributions

MA conceived of the study, participated in its design and the statistical analysis, supervised the literature review, drafted the manuscript, and coordinated the process; SK conceived of the study, participated in its design, planned the statistical analyses, and lead the analytic process; RC participated in the design of the study, helped with the tables, and conducted the literature review; KG participated in the design of the study, prepared the dataset, and conducted the descriptive statistical analyses; JL is the Scientific Director on the project, participated in the design of the study, and provided feedback on the manuscript drafts; RL is the Principal Investigator on the project, and provided feedback on the manuscript drafts. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miriam R. Arbeit
    • 1
  • Sara K. Johnson
    • 1
  • Robey B. Champine
    • 1
  • Kathleen N. Greenman
    • 1
  • Jacqueline V. Lerner
    • 2
  • Richard M. Lerner
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Applied Research in Youth DevelopmentTufts UniversityMedfordUSA
  2. 2.Boston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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