The relationship between positive development and psychopathology during the transition to adulthood: A person-centred approach

Meredith O'Connor, Ann Sanson, Mary T. Hawkins, Craig A Olsson, Erica Frydenberg, John W Toumbourou, Primrose Letcher

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The transition to adulthood is characterised by potential for both positive development and problem outcomes such as psychopathology, yet little is known about relationships between the two. Given the diversity of pathways observed during this transition period, there is likely to be significant heterogeneity in young people's experiences of these outcomes. Drawing on data from 1158 19-20 year olds in the Australian Temperament Project and using latent profile analysis, we identified six subgroups. For most, higher positive development was associated with lower psychopathology and vice versa. One group (33.6%) was high across all positive development measures and low on psychopathology, and another (47.7%) average in both areas. The remaining four groups were low on positive development but differentiated by average psychopathology (4.7%), high internalising (5.5%), and moderate (7.2%) and severe (1.3%) externalising problems. Tailored intervention strategies that address both the promotion of competence and prevention of problem outcomes are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-712
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Emerging adulthood
  • Person-centred analysis
  • Positive development
  • Psychopathology

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