Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 7, pp 1403–1417 | Cite as

Psychosocial Maturation, Race, and Desistance from Crime

  • Michael RocqueEmail author
  • Amber L. Beckley
  • Alex R. Piquero
Empirical Research


Research on maturation and its relation to antisocial behavior has progressed appreciably in recent years. Psychosocial maturation is a relatively recent concept of development that scholarship has linked to risky behavior. Psychosocial maturation appears to be a promising explanation of the process of exiting criminal behavior, known as desistance from crime. However, to date, research has not examined whether psychosocial maturation is related to desistance in similar ways across race/ethnicity. Using the Pathways to Desistance Study which followed a mixed-race/ethnicity group of serious adolescent offenders for 7 years, this research tested growth in psychosocial maturation across race/ethnic groups. The sample (14.46% female, average age 15.97 at baseline) was composed of white (n = 250), black (n = 463), and Hispanic (n = 414) individuals. The results showed variation in trajectories of psychosocial maturation with blacks having higher initial levels but slower growth in maturation over time compared to whites. Psychosocial maturation was negatively related to crime across all racial/ethnic groups. Across all racial/ethnic groups, differences in the magnitude of the association between psychosocial maturation and desistance were small. Rather than needing distinct theories for specific groups, psychosocial maturation appears to be a general theoretical perspective for understanding desistance from crime across races/ethnicities. Policy formulation based on psychosocial maturation would, therefore, be applicable across racial/ethnic groups.


Psychosocial maturation Crime Desistance 


Authors’ Contributions

M.R. conceived of the study, drafted the manuscript and performed all statistical analyses; A.L.B. conceived of the study and participated in the drafting of the manuscript as well as creating the figure. A.R.P. contributed to the drafting of the manuscript.


There is no funding associated with this manuscript. The Pathways to Desistance Study data were funded by various groups, found here

Data Sharing and Declaration

This manuscript’s data are publicly available in the ICPSR repository (

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

A.R.P. was an Investigator on the Pathways to Desistance Study from which the data for this study were drawn. The remaining authors declare no confict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The institutional review boards at all participating universities approved the original Pathways Study. The authors complied with Committee on Publication Ethics’ standards in the development of this manuscript.

Informed Consent

No identifiable information was obtained for the purposes of the current study. The Pathways to Desistance researchers obtained informed consent before collecting data on the subjects.

Supplementary material

10964_2019_1029_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary Materials


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bates CollegeLewistonUSA
  2. 2.Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  3. 3.University of Texas DallasDallasUSA
  4. 4.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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