Although psychopathic traits and pubertal timing have garnered a great deal of attention as potent risk factors for antisocial trajectories, very little research has examined how these processes may be related. We investigated whether psychopathic traits were related to deviations in pubertal onset in a clinically-relevant sample of youth detained in juvenile detention facilities. One-hundred and thirty-seven adolescents (ages 12–17) completed surveys of pubertal timing, psychopathic traits, and mental health functioning. As predicted, psychopathic traits were found to be associated with pubertal timing, and the psychopathy facets evidenced differential associations with the onset of puberty. Trait disinhibition was associated with relatively earlier pubertal timing, whereas trait boldness appeared to confer protection against early pubertal onset in this sample. Symptoms of alcohol/substance use and anger/irritability were positively related to psychopathic traits, but only among youth who reported average-/late-pubertal development. These findings implicate psychopathic personality traits as individual difference variables that may influence the onset of pubertal timing and interact with pubertal timing to place justice-involved youth at risk for poor mental health.
- Substance use
- Triarchic Psychopathy Measure
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