On Imbalance of Impulse Control and Sensation Seeking and Adolescent Risk: An Intra-individual Developmental Test of the Dual Systems and Maturational Imbalance Models

Wim Meeus*, Wilma Vollebergh, Susan Branje, Elisabetta Crocetti, Johan Ormel, Rens van de Schoot, Eveline A Crone, Andrik Becht

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Heterogeneity in development of imbalance between impulse control and sensation seeking has not been studied until now. The present study scrutinized this heterogeneity and the link between imbalance and adolescent risk. Seven-wave data of 7,558 youth (50.71% males; age range from 12/13 until 24/25) were used. Three developmental trajectories were identified. The first trajectory, "sensation seeking to balanced sensation seeking", included participants with a higher level of sensation seeking than impulse control across all ages. The second trajectory, "moderate dominant control", included participants showing moderate and increasing impulse control relative to sensation seeking across all ages. The third trajectory, "strong late dominant control", included participants showing the highest level of impulse control which was about as strong as sensation seeking from early to middle adolescence and became substantially stronger from late adolescence to early adulthood. Although the systematic increase of impulse control in all subgroups is in line with both models, neither of these combined trajectories of control and sensation seeking was predicted by the Dual Systems Model or the Maturational Imbalance Model. Consistent with both models the "sensation seeking to balanced sensation seeking" trajectory showed the highest level of substance use. It can be concluded that, even though both theories adequately predict the link between imbalance and risk, neither the Dual Systems Model nor the Maturational Imbalance Model correctly predict the heterogeneity in development of imbalance between impulse control and sensation seeking.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)827-840
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20-Mar-2021

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