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Male antisocial behaviour in adolescence and beyond

Nature Human Behaviourvolume 2pages177186 (2018) | Download Citation


Male antisocial behaviour is concentrated in the adolescent period of the life course, as documented by the curve of crime over age. This article reviews recent evidence regarding the hypothesis that the age–crime curve conceals two groups with different causes. Life-course-persistent males show extreme, pervasive, persistent antisocial behaviour from early childhood to adulthood. They are hypothesized to be rare, with pathological risk factors and poor life outcomes. In contrast, adolescence-limited males show similar levels of antisocial behaviour but primarily during the adolescent stage of development. They are hypothesized to be common and normative, whereas abstainers from offending are rare. This Review recaps the 25-year history of the developmental taxonomy of antisocial behaviour, concluding that it is standing the test of time in research, and making an impact on policy in early-years prevention and juvenile justice. Research is needed into how the taxonomy relates to neuroscience, health, genetics and changes in modern crime, including digital crime.

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Work on this Review was supported by grants from the UK Medical Research Council (P005918, G1002190), National Institute of Child Health and Development (HD077482), National Institute on Aging (AG032282, AG049789), Jacobs Foundation and Avielle Foundation.

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  1. Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

    • Terrie E. Moffitt
  2. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA

    • Terrie E. Moffitt
  3. Center for Genomic and Computational Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

    • Terrie E. Moffitt
  4. Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK

    • Terrie E. Moffitt


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