Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

2014 Edition
| Editors: Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd

Moffitt’s Developmental Taxonomy of Antisocial Behavior

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_506


This entry provides an overview of Moffitt’s developmental taxonomy, highlights key findings from subsequent research, identifies critical challenges to the taxonomy, and outlines several important directions for future research. The entry concludes by noting that some of the taxonomy’s key hypotheses have been supported by empirical research, while other findings have presented challenges to the taxonomy.


The age/crime relationship is one of the brute facts of criminology, which any theory of crime must be able to explain. The curve evidences a slow rise during early adolescence, peaks in mid to late adolescence, and then decreases rapidly in early adulthood. The fact of the curve is unassailable; however, what is especially contentious is the reason(s) underlying this consistently documented correlate of crime. One theory in particular, Terrie Moffitt’s (1993) developmental taxonomy, seeks to develop a better understanding of the age/crime relationship by...

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Recommended Reading and References

  1. Nagin DS, Farrington DP, Moffitt TE (1995) Life-course trajectories of different types of offenders. Criminology 33:111–139Google Scholar
  2. Moffitt TE (1993) Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: a developmental taxonomy. Psychol Rev 100:674–701Google Scholar
  3. Moffitt TE (1994) Natural histories of delinquency. In: Cross-national longitudinal research on human development and criminal behavior. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 3–61Google Scholar
  4. Moffitt TE (2006) Life-course-persistent versus adolescence-limited antisocial behavior. In: Cicchetti D, Cohen DJ (eds) Developmental psychopathology, vol 3: risk, disorder, and adaptation, 2nd edn. Wiley, Hoboken, pp 570–598Google Scholar
  5. Moffitt TE, Caspi A, Rutter M, Silva PA (2001) Sex differences in antisocial behaviour. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Odgers CL, Caspi A, Broadbent JM, Dickson N, Hancox RJ, Harrington HL, Poulton R, Sears MR, Thomson WM, Moffitt TE (2007) Prediction of differential adult health burden by conduct problem subtypes in males. Arch Gen Psychiatry 64:476–484Google Scholar
  7. Piquero AR (2008) Taking stock of developmental trajectories of criminal activity over the life course. In: Lieberman AM (ed) The long view of crime: a synthesis of longitudinal research. Springer, New York, pp 23–78Google Scholar
  8. Piquero AR, Moffitt TE (2005) Explaining the facts of crime: how the developmental taxonomy replies to Farrington’s invitation. In: Farrington DP (ed) Integrated developmental & life-course theories of offending: advances in criminological theory. Transaction, New Brunswick, pp 51–72Google Scholar
  9. Piquero AR, Farrington DP, Nagin DS, Moffitt TE (2010) Trajectories of offending and their relation to life failure in late middle age: findings from the Cambridge study in delinquent development. J Res Crime Delinq 47:151–173Google Scholar
  10. Piquero AR, Shepherd I, Shepherd J, Farrington DP (2011) Impact of offender trajectories on health: disability, hospitalization, and death by middle age in the Cambridge study in delinquent development. Criminal Behav Ment Health 21:189–201Google Scholar
  11. Sampson RJ, Laub JH (2003) Life-course desisters? Trajectories of crime among delinquent boys followed to age 70. Criminology 41:555–592Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CriminologyThe University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Behavioral SciencesInstitute for Genome Sciences and Policy, Duke UniversityDurhamUSA