“It’s a Rush”: Psychosocial Content of Antisocial Decision Making
Changes in the juvenile justice system have led to more serious sanctioning of adolescents (Heilbrun, Goldstein, & Redding, 2005). A salient question for understanding whether such sanctions are appropriate pertains to whether adolescents are less mature than adults in making decisions that lead to antisocial activity. The current study codes for psychosocial content of antisocial decision making in adolescents (ages 12–17), young adults (18–23), and adults (ages 35–63). Results suggest that adolescents and young adults display increased psychosocial content in their antisocial decision making relative to adults. However, the unique effect of psychosocial content on self-report criminal behavior was significantly greater among adolescents than among adults, whereas for young adults this was not the case. Implications for legal policy are discussed.
KeywordsAdolescents Decision making Juvenile delinquency Psychosocial maturity
Special thanks to Victoria Banyard, Cesar Rebellon, Nancy Guerra, and Michelle Little for continued feedback on previous versions of this manuscript. Many thanks to Amanda Bemis, Eleanor Boisvert, Amanda Scott, and Rachel Ripperger for assistance in coding. I also wish to thank the Editor and a number of anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback, which contributed significantly to the completion of this manuscript. This research was funded in part by a dissertation year fellowship from the University of New Hampshire, grants-in-aid from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and from the American Psychology-Law Association, and NIH Training Grant #T32 MH 018387.
- American Bar Association. (2004). Youth in the criminal justice system: Guidelines for policymakers and practitioners. Retrieved January 27, 2008 from: www.abanet.org/crimjust/pubs/reports/introduction.html.
- Brannen, D. N., Salekin, R. T., Zapf, P. A., Salekin, K. L., Kubak, F. A., & Decoster, J. (2006). Transfer to adult court. A National Study of how juvenile court judges weigh pertinent Kent criteria. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 12(3), 332–355. doi: 10.1037/1076-8918.104.22.1682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Cauffman, E. E. (1996). Maturity of judgment: Psychosocial factors in adolescent decision-making. Dissertation Abstracts International, 57(09). (DAI Publication No. AAT 9706949).Google Scholar
- Cauffman, E., & Woolard, J. (1999). The future outlook inventory. Instrument developed for the MacArthur Juvenile Competence Study. Unpublished measure available from the first author, Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine.Google Scholar
- Davies, P. L., & Rose, J. D. (1999). Assessment of cognitive development in adolescents by means of neuropsychological tasks. Developmental Neuropsychology, 15(2), 227–248.Google Scholar
- Erikson, E. (1959). Identity and the life cycle. Psychological Issues, 1, 1–171.Google Scholar
- Fleiss, J. L. (1981). Statistical methods for rates and proportions (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Grisso, T., Steinberg, L., Woolard, J., Cauffman, E., Scott, E., Graham, S., et al. (2003). Juveniles’ competence to stand trial: A comparison of adolescents’ and adults’ capacities as trial defendants. Law and Human Behavior, 27(4), 333–363. doi: 10.1023/A:1024065015717.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Heilbrun, K., Goldstein, N. E., & Redding, R. E. (Eds.). (2005). Juvenile delinquency: Prevention, assessment, and intervention. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- In Re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967).Google Scholar
- Kent v. United States, 383, U.S 541 (1966).Google Scholar
- Modecki, K. L. (2008). Addressing gaps in the maturity of judgment literature: Age differences and delinquency. Law and Human Behavior, 32(1). doi: 10.1007/s10979-007-9087-7.
- Muthen, L. K., & Muthen, B. O. (2004). Mplus: The comprehensive modeling program for applied researchers. User’s guide (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Muthen & Muthen.Google Scholar
- Roper v. Simmons, 125 S.Ct. 1183 (2005).Google Scholar
- Salekin, R. T. (2002). Juvenile transfer to adult court: How can developmental and child psychology inform policy decision making? In B. L. Bottoms, M. Bull Kovera, & B. D. McAuliff (Eds.), Children, social science, and the law (pp. 203–232). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Salekin, R. T., Yff, R. M. A., Neumann, C. S., Leistico, A. R., & Zalot, A. A. (2002). Juvenile transfer to adult courts. A look at the prototypes for dangerousness, sophistication-maturity, and amenability to treatment through a legal lens. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 8(4), 373–410. doi: 10.1037/1076-8922.214.171.1243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Snyder, H. N., & Sickmund, M. (2006). Juvenile offenders, victims: 2006 National Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.Google Scholar