Psychosocial Maturation, Race, and Desistance from Crime
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.
KeywordsPsychosocial maturation Crime Desistance
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 https://www.pathwaysstudy.pitt.edu/funders.html
Data Sharing and Declaration
This manuscript’s data are publicly available in the ICPSR repository (https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/NAHDAP/studies/32282).
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.
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.
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.
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