Mediator effects in the social development model: An examination of constituent theories

Eric C. Brown, Richard F. Catalano, Charles B. Fleming, Kevin P. Haggerty, Robert D. Abbott, Rebecca R. Cortes, Jisuk Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: The social development model (SDM) provides an explanatory framework for the progression of antisocial behaviour in children and adolescents. Although previous research has assessed the predictive validity of the model, alternative associations based on the SDM's constituent theories have not been examined. Method: Using structural equation modelling, a series of direct paths was examined for mediation by SDM constructs. Data for the study consisted of teacher-, parent- and self-report of 1016 fourth- and fifth-grade students from the Raising Healthy Children project, a longitudinal etiological study with an embedded preventive intervention. Results: Four of the seven paths examined were partially or totally mediated by SDM constructs. Specifically, the relationship between prosocial bonding and adolescent antisocial behaviour, as hypothesized by social control theory, was fully mediated by prosocial beliefs. As hypothesized by social learning theory, students' socioemotional and cognitive skills significantly predicted antisocial behaviour, independent of partial mediation through rewards, bonding and beliefs. As hypothesized by differential association theory, involvement with both prosocial and antisocial persons was directly associated with respective prosocial and antisocial beliefs, independent of partial mediation through rewards and bonding. Conclusions: These findings suggest additional associations that are not currently specified in the SDM and underscore the importance of re-examining hypotheses from constituent theories when integrating developmental models of antisocial behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-235
Number of pages15
JournalCriminal Behaviour and Mental Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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