The authors propose that peer relationships should be included in a life history perspective on adolescent problem behavior. Longitudinal analyses were used to examine deviant peer clustering as the mediating link between attenuated family ties, peer marginalization, and social disadvantage in early adolescence and sexual promiscuity in middle adolescence and childbearing by early adulthood. Specifically, 998 youths, along with their families, were assessed at age 11 years and periodically through age 24 years. Structural equation modeling revealed that the peer-enhanced life history model provided a good fit to the longitudinal data, with deviant peer clustering strongly predicting adolescent sexual promiscuity and other correlated problem behaviors. Sexual promiscuity, as expected, also strongly predicted the number of children by ages 22-24 years. Consistent with a life history perspective, family social disadvantage directly predicted deviant peer clustering and number of children in early adulthood, controlling for all other variables in the model. These data suggest that deviant peer clustering is a core dimension of a fast life history strategy, with strong links to sexual activity and childbearing. The implications of these findings are discussed with respect to the need to integrate an evolutionary-based model of self-organized peer groups in developmental and intervention science.
- Antisocial behavior
- Evolutionary psychology
- Peer relations
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies