Child Maltreatment and Mediating Influences of Childhood Personality Types on the Development of Adolescent Psychopathology

Assaf Oshri, Fred A. Rogosch, Dante Cicchetti

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64 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to investigate longitudinal risk processes linking early child maltreatment, childhood personality organizations, and adolescent maladaptation. In a sample of maltreated and nonmaltreated children (N = 400; 62.3% African American, 11.8% Hispanic; 40.8% girls), a tripartite personality typology based on California Child Q-Set items representative of ego resiliency and ego control personality dimensions (Block & Block, 1969/1980) was derived at Wave 1 (age range = 10-12). The typology, composed of Resilient, Overcontrolled, and Undercontrolled profiles, was evaluated for associations with previous child maltreatment, and for its utility in predicting adolescent psychopathology (age range = 15-18). Maltreated children were significantly more likely than nonmaltreated children to be classified into the overcontrolled (Odds Ratio = 1.847) and undercontrolled profiles (Odds Ratio = 2.101), compared to the Resilient profile. The undercontrolled profile reported higher cannabis symptoms and externalizing problems in adolescence than the other two profiles. The overcontrolled group showed the highest levels of internalizing and lowest levels of alcohol problems compared to the other profiles. Person-centered mediation analyses showed that the overcontrolled and the undercontrolled profiles significantly and differentially mediated the link between number of child maltreatment subtypes and the development of adolescent psychopathology. Child maltreatment is a potent environmental stressor that potentiates compromised personality development, eventuating in heightened psychopathology in adolescence. These findings have important implications for prevention and intervention of psychopathology and substance abuse among low income and maltreated youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-301
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013

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Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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