The structure and coherence of competence from childhood through adolescence

Child Dev. 1995 Dec;66(6):1635-59.


The structure and coherence of competence from childhood (ages 8-12) to late adolescence (ages 17-23) was examined in a longitudinal study of 191 children. Structural equation modeling was utilized to test a conceptual model and alternative models. Results suggest that competence has at least 3 distinct dimensions in childhood and 5 in adolescence. These dimensions reflect developmental tasks related to academic achievement, social competence, and conduct important at both age levels in U.S. society, and the additional tasks of romantic and job competence in adolescence. As hypothesized, rule-breaking versus rule-abiding conduct showed strong continuity over time, while academic achievement and social competence showed moderate continuity. Results also were consistent with the hypothesis that antisocial behavior undermines academic attainment and job competence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Career Choice
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development*
  • Social Adjustment*