External environment and internal state in relation to life-history behavioural profiles of adolescents in nine countries

Lei Chang, Hui Jing Lu, Jennifer E. Lansford, Marc H. Bornstein, Laurence Steinberg, Bin Bin Chen, Ann T. Skinner, Kenneth A. Dodge, Kirby Deater-Deckard, Dario Bacchini, Concetta Pastorelli, Liane Peña Alampay, Sombat Tapanya, Emma Sorbring, Paul Oburu, Suha M. Al-Hassan, Laura Di Giunta, Patrick S. Malone, Liliana Maria Uribe Tirado, Saengduean Yotanyamaneewong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The external environment has traditionally been considered as the primary driver of animal life history (LH). Recent research suggests that animals' internal state is also involved, especially in forming LH behavioural phenotypes. The present study investigated how these two factors interact in formulating LH in humans. Based on a longitudinal sample of 1223 adolescents in nine countries, the results show that harsh and unpredictable environments and adverse internal states in childhood are each uniquely associated with fast LH behavioural profiles consisting of aggression, impulsivity, and risk-taking in adolescence. The external environment and internal state each strengthened the LH association of the other, but overall the external environmentwasmore predictive of LH thanwas the internal state. These findings suggest that individuals rely on a multitude and consistency of sensory information in more decisively calibrating LH and behavioural strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20192097
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1917
StatePublished - Dec 18 2019


  • Adolescents
  • Fast life-history behavioural profiles
  • Harsh and unpredictable environment
  • Internal body state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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