The Adolescence-Limited/Life-Course Persistent Theory of Antisocial Behavior: What Have We Learned?

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This chapter reviews ten years of research on a developmental theory that proposes the existence of two primary pathways to antisocial behavior, the life-course persistent (LCP) and adolescence-limited (AL) pathways. The AL/LCP model of offending is a synthesized theory that draws on both biological and social learning variables, and was first proposed in 1993 in a paper published in Psychological Review (Moffittm,1993). This paper contained a number of research strategies and suggestions for testing hypotheses derived from the theory and described predictions about epidemiology, age, social class, risk correlates, offense types, desistence from crime, abstainers from crime, and the longitudinal stability of antisocial behavior. The theory posits that the antisocial behavior of LCP offenders has its origin in neurodevelopmental processes, that it begins in early chilhood, and continues worsening thereafter. In contrast, the antisocial behavior of AL offenders has its origins in social processes, begins in adolescence, and ceases for the vast majority in young adulthood. LCP offenders are few, persistent, and pathological; AL offenders are common, relatively transient, and are relatively "normal" (Moffitt, 1993; Moffitt, 1994; Moffitt, 1997).

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