Research on maturation and its relation to antisocial behavior has progressed appreciably in recent years. Psychosocial maturation is a relatively recent concept of development that scholarship has linked to risky behavior. Psychosocial maturation appears to be a promising explanation of the process of exiting criminal behavior, known as desistance from crime. However, to date, research has not examined whether psychosocial maturation is related to desistance in similar ways across race/ethnicity. Using the Pathways to Desistance Study which followed a mixed-race/ethnicity group of serious adolescent offenders for 7 years, this research tested growth in psychosocial maturation across race/ethnic groups. The sample (14.46% female, average age 15.97 at baseline) was composed of white (n = 250), black (n = 463), and Hispanic (n = 414) individuals. The results showed variation in trajectories of psychosocial maturation with blacks having higher initial levels but slower growth in maturation over time compared to whites. Psychosocial maturation was negatively related to crime across all racial/ethnic groups. Across all racial/ethnic groups, differences in the magnitude of the association between psychosocial maturation and desistance were small. Rather than needing distinct theories for specific groups, psychosocial maturation appears to be a general theoretical perspective for understanding desistance from crime across races/ethnicities. Policy formulation based on psychosocial maturation would, therefore, be applicable across racial/ethnic groups.
- Psychosocial maturation