Encyclopedia of Adolescence

2011 Edition
| Editors: Roger J. R. Levesque

Internalizing and Externalizing Problems

  • Maria FornsEmail author
  • Judit Abad
  • Teresa Kirchner
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1695-2_261


This essay delineates the main characteristics of internalizing and externalizing problems. Internalizing problems are described as inner-directed and generating distress in the individual, while externalizing problems are described as outer-directed and generating discomfort and conflict in the surrounding environment. Also examined are the influences of developmental changes as well as gender and cross-cultural differences on these dimensions during adolescence. Finally, these dimensions are related to personality traits and coping strategies, in this regard common and specific relations are pointed out.

Characterization of Internalizing and Externalizing Problems

Adolescent maladjustment has been frequently dichotomized into two syndromes referred to as internalizing and externalizing problems. In the 1960s, Achenbach and colleagues, a paradigmatic research group on adolescence psychopathology, proposed an original taxonomy, empirically derived, of childhood and adolescent...
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Personality, Assessment and Psychological TreatmentsUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain