Sex Differences in Antisocial Behaviour: Conduct Disorder, Delinquency, and Violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study

Sex Differences in Antisocial Behaviour: Conduct Disorder, Delinquency, and Violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study

Sex Differences in Antisocial Behaviour: Conduct Disorder, Delinquency, and Violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study

Sex Differences in Antisocial Behaviour: Conduct Disorder, Delinquency, and Violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study

Synopsis

Why are females rarely antisocial and males antisocial so often? This is one of the key questions addressed in a fresh approach to sex differences in the causes, course and consequences of antisocial behavior. A multidisciplinary team of authors present all-new findings from the landmark Dunedin Longitudinal Study and also provide new insights into such topics as the importance of puberty, diagnostic issues in psychiatry, the problem of domestic violence and the intergenerational transmission of antisocial behavior.

Excerpt

This book presents all-new findings from the Dunedin Study, which has followed 1,000 males and females from ages 3 to 21. Unlike previous studies of sex differences, we incorporate information about how antisocial behaviour changes with age over the first two decades of life, a stage when it emerges, peaks, and consolidates into antisocial disorders and serious crime. Unlike previous studies of age effects on antisocial behaviour, we incorporate information about sex differences. This novel synthetic look at age and sex opens windows on the fundamental aetiology of antisocial behaviour, ruling out some old hypotheses and pointing to some new ones. The findings will interest students of antisocial behaviour, but the questions we frame — and the analytic approaches we use to answer them — demonstrate an approach that is applicable to any behavioural problem or mental disorder showing a sex difference.

The book incorporates approaches from three disciplines: developmental psychology, psychiatry, and criminology. Using dimensional measures of antisocial behaviour, diagnostic measures of psychiatric disorders, and measures of adjudicated delinquency and violent crime, chapters examine sex differences in the developmental course, causes, correlates, and sequelae of antisocial behaviour. We test the hypothesis that girls pass a higher threshold of risk to become as antisocial as boys, finding evidence counter to the hypothesis. We test the hypothesis that the diagnostic cut-offs defining conduct disorder should be set at a lower, milder, level for girls than for boys, finding that this is not justified.

Taken together, the new findings in the book's seventeen chapters show that young people develop antisocial behaviour for two main reasons. On the one hand, one form of antisocial behaviour may be understood as a disorder . . .

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