Journal of Clinical Pediatrics and Neonatal Care

Three Theories that Explain why Male Antisocial Behavior in Childhood Predicts Male Antisocial Behavior in Adulthood

Published on: 2016-08-26


There is strong evidence from prospective longitudinal studies that psychopathology in childhood robustly predicts psychopathology in adulthood [1]. Lahey [1] has recently reviewed three of the major theories for this strong predictive correlation. This article will present a brief overview of these theories as applied to male life-course-persistent (MLCP) antisocial behavior which is arguably the most important of all pediatric mental health problems [2]. MLCP refers to the childhood onset of severe overt conduct problems such as physical aggression, opposition-defiance, and rule-breaking that emerge from early neurodevelopmental (e.g., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and environmental adversity risk factors (e.g., dysfunctional family) which greatly increases the risk for delinquency, adult criminality, and a host of other problems [3]. The focus on LCP that is male is appropriate as males are astonishingly 10 to 14 times more likely than females to develop LCP [3]. The much greater prevalence of MLCP receives strong support from research in the criminological literature on career criminality [4], which reports male/female ratios ranging from 9:1 to 12:1 [5]. Indeed, of all the multiple bio-psycho-social risk factors for the development of severe antisocial behavior, “maleness” is by far the most robust predictor [6,7]. Thus it is of high importance to understand why male antisocial behavior childhood is a strong predictor of male antisocial behavior in adulthood. In addition to presenting a brief overview of the three theories, the communication will also provide an example with each theory that helps explain why LCP is overwhelmingly male.