Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




A national sample assessed at ages 8 through 17 years was reassessed 9 years later using parent- and self-report measures of the Achenbach System of Empircally Based Assessment (ASEBA), including the Young Adult Behavior Checklist (YABCL) and Young Adult Self Report (YASR).

Four theories of the longitudinal relationship among competence, psychopathology, and risk were tested over the transition from childhood to young adulthood using univariate analyses and Structural Equation Modeling. These theories included: 1) the Failure Model, which posits that early deficits in competence lead to later emotional and behavior problems, 2) the Disability Model, which posits that early emotional and behavior problems lead to later competence deficits, 3) the Shared Risk Model, which posits that early economic and family risk factors lead to both psychological problems and competence deficits, and 4) the Complex Model, which posits that all three models may operate simultaneously.

Results indicated that the nine-year stability of problems and competence accounted for the largest proportion of the variance of problem and competence outcomes. The processes involved in the Failure, Disability, and Shared Risk Models contributed very small but significant amounts of variance to the prediction of young adult problems and competence after accounting for the stability of problems and competence. Childhood Attention, Internalizing, and Externalizing Problems also accounted for a very small proportion of the variance of young adult Social and School/ Job competence, particularly for boys. Childhood Social and School Competence predicted very small amounts of variance in young adult Attention and Externalizing Problems for girls. In addition, risk factors in childhood accounted for a very small proportion of variance in young adult Internalizing, Externalizing, and Social Competence, particularly for boys. The Complex Model was also supported, as these processes frequently operated simultaneously.

In conclusion, the longitudinal relationship between competence and psychopathology is complex and differs with the gender of the participants and the type of problem and competence being analyzed.