Testing Moffitt's neuropsychological variation hypothesis for the prediction of life-course persistent offending

Alex Piquero

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74 Citations (Scopus)


Although neuropsychological deficits have been linked to antisocial behavior, theories of crime have been slow to develop formal processes and predictions for neuropsychological deficits. One recently articulated theory, however, places emphasis on the influence of neuropsychological variation in the development of antisocial behavior. In her developmental taxonomy, Moffitt outlines a theory of antisocial behavior that rests on the presence of two groups of offenders: life-course persisters and adolescent-limiteds. Both groups occupy distinct etiologies for antisocial involvement and are believed to engage in different antisocial activities. One of the main differences between the two groups is the role that neuropsychological deficits play in the production of antisocial behavior. Moffitt hypothesizes that neuropsychological deficits are predictive of antisocial involvement for life-course persisters but not for adolescent-limiteds. Using data from the Philadelphia portion of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project, proxy measures of neuropsychological deficits are used to predict four different manifestations of life-course persistent offending. Results support Moffitt's hypothesis about the relationship between poor neuropsychological test scores and life-course persistent styles of offending.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-215
Number of pages23
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Criminal behavior
  • Life-course persistent offending
  • Neuropsychological risk
  • Verbal deficits

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