Understanding deviance through the dual systems model: Converging evidence for criminology and developmental sciences

Alexander T. Vazsonyi, Albert J. Ksinan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


According to the dual systems model, adolescent risk-taking is related to asynchronous development of two distinct neurobiological subsystems; this difference leads to a discrepancy or gap that is responsible for an increased propensity for risky behaviors among youth. The current study a) replicated Steinberg et al.'s (2008) findings based on a large, cross-cultural sample; b) tested for potential sex differences in the development of sensation seeking and impulsivity over time; c) tested whether the discrepancy (or gap) between the two traits was associated with deviant behaviors. Based on 15,839 adolescents and young adults from eleven countries, findings largely support basic tenets of the model, among them (1) the sudden increase in sensation seeking, (2) important differences in the quasi-developmental course of risk seeking and impulsivity (impulse control) in male versus female youth, and (3) that the gap between the two is strongly associated with deviance. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the age-crime curve and associated conceptual work in criminology focused on maturational reform or crime desistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are indebted to all the schools, its administrators, and the students who completed the surveys; we would also like to thank Drs. Dick Hessing and Marianne Junger, Ginesa Torrente-Hernandez, Chuen-Jim Sheu, Li Huang, and Esra Burcu for their assistance in collecting data in the Netherlands, Spain, Taiwan, China, and Turkey, respectively. Partial support for data collections in Slovenia and the Czech Republic were provided to the first author by a Fulbright grant and by the Fulbright-Masaryk Distinguished Chair in Social Studies, respectively. Additional support for the data collection in Japan was provided by Auburn University's Competitive Research Grant-In-Aid Program. He was also supported in part by the John I. and Patricia J. Buster Endowed Professorship of Family Sciences.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Adolescence
  • Discrepancy
  • Dual systems model
  • Impulse control
  • Impulsivity
  • Problem behaviors
  • Sensation seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


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