Prospective association of childhood receptive vocabulary and conduct problems with self-reported adolescent delinquency: tests of mediation and moderation in sibling-comparison analyses.

J Abnorm Child Psychol 2014 Nov;42(8):1341-51

Department of Health Studies (MC 2007), University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL, 6063, USA,

Associations among receptive vocabulary measured at 4-9 years, mother-reported childhood conduct problems at 4-9 years, and self-reported adolescent delinquency at 14-17 years were assessed using data from a prospective study of the offspring of a large U.S. nationally representative sample of women. A novel quasi-experimental strategy was used to rule out family-level confounding by estimating path-analytic associations within families in a sibling comparison design. This allowed simultaneous tests of the direct and indirect effects of receptive vocabulary and childhood conduct problems, and of their joint moderation, on adolescent delinquency without family-level environmental confounding. The significant association of receptive vocabulary with later adolescent delinquency was indirect, mediated by childhood conduct problems. Furthermore, a significant interaction between receptive vocabulary and childhood conduct problems reflected a steeper slope for the predictive association between childhood conduct problems and adolescent delinquency when receptive vocabulary scores were higher. These findings of significant indirect association were qualitatively identical in both population-level and within-family analyses, suggesting that they are not the result of family-level confounds.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10802-014-9873-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4198452PMC
November 2014
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