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In an influential 2002 paper, Farrington and colleagues argued that to understand ‘causes’ of delinquency, within-individual analyses of longitudinal data are required (compared to the vast majority of analyses that have focused on between-individual differences). The current paper aimed to complete similar analyses to those conducted by Farrington and colleagues by focusing on the developmental correlates and risk factors for antisocial behaviour and by comparing within-individual and between-individual predictors of antisocial behaviour using data from the youngest Victorian cohort of the International Youth Development Study, a state-wide representative sample of 927 students from Victoria, Australia. Data analysed in the current paper are from participants in Year 6 (age 11–12 years) in 2003 to Year 11 (age 16–17 years) in 2008 (N = 791; 85% retention) with data collected almost annually. Participants completed a self-report survey of risk and protective factors and antisocial behaviour. Complete data were available for 563 participants. The results of this study showed all but one of the forward- (family conflict) and backward-lagged (low attachment to parents) correlations were statistically significant for the within-individual analyses compared with all analyses being statistically significant for the between-individual analyses. In general, between-individual correlations were greater in magnitude than within-individual correlations. Given that forward-lagged within-individual correlations provide more salient measures of causes of delinquency, it is important that longitudinal studies with multi-wave data analyse and report their data using both between-individual and within-individual correlations to inform current prevention and early intervention programs seeking to reduce rates of antisocial behaviour.

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Journal Article

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