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Advisory Committee Chair

Silvie Mrug

Advisory Committee Members

Robin Lanzi

Despina Stavrinos

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2021

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Pubertal timing has been shown to be an important predictor of adolescents’ engagement in delinquent activities, development of depressive symptoms, and academic success. Less understood is whether early or off-time pubertal timing put adolescents at risk for detrimental outcomes. Additionally, little is known about whether the effects of pubertal timing dissipate during adolescence or persist into adulthood and what underlying mechanisms may explain any persisting effects and whether these effects vary by sex. The present study aimed to answer these questions in an understudied population of predominantly African American males and females, focusing on peer deviance and school connectedness as mediators of the prospective effects of pubertal timing on behavioral, emotional, academic and occupational outcomes. The study followed 704 youth from early adolescence into young adulthood and examined concurrent as well as long-term effects of perceived and reported biological pubertal timing on delinquency, depressive symptoms, school performance, and objective and subjective career success in eight path models. Each model included indirect effects through peer deviance and school connectedness in early adolescence. The results suggested that the effects of pubertal timing varied across perceived vs. biological timing and by sex, but were not mediated by peer deviance or school connectedness. Some effects of pubertal timing on delinquency and career success persisted into adulthood. Multigroup analyses of sex differences showed that perceived and biological off-time pubertal timing in males and early iv biological pubertal timing in females were risk factors for delinquent trajectories. Perceived off-time maturation in males predicted more subsequent depressive symptoms and lower academic and objective career success, whereas perceived early pubertal timing predicted lower objective career success in females. These findings advance our understanding of more nuanced effects of pubertal timing that incorporates multiple dimensions.

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