Pubertal development and health-related behavior

Danielle M. Dick, Brian S. Mustanski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Puberty is a major biological and psychosocial milestone. It is a stage of intense physical development accompanied by substantial increases in circulating hormone levels leading to reproductive capability. Not all adolescents experience the transition to puberty at the same age, and differential pubertal timing among adolescents appears to have important implications for psychological and behavioral outcomes, making this an important area of study for integrative biopsychosocial models of development. There is also evidence that variation in pubertal timing may have different effects in boys and girls. In girls, early maturation relative to same-age peers appears to be a risk factor for many negative outcomes (Stattin & Magnusson, 1990). It is associated with increased family conflict that persists beyond the temporary perturbation in familial relations also experienced by on-time and late maturing girls. Early developing girls are more likely to engage in a variety of problem behaviors, including precocious sexual behavior, alcohol use, and smoking, among others. They are more likely to report multiple emotional problems, including higher levels of distress, psychosomatic symptoms, adjustment problems, and greater dissatisfaction with weight and body image. Accordingly, early developers may be at increased risk for psychopathology, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Finally, there is some evidence that early maturing girls are less likely to achieve academic success in adolescence or to pursue education and professional careers. The effect of pubertal development on behavioral outcome in males has not been studied nearly as extensively as in females. The reasons are likely twofold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocioemotional Development and Health from Adolescence to Adulthood
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780511499784
ISBN (Print)0521846315, 9780521846318
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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