Adolescents' subjective age: An indicator of perceived maturity

Nancy L. Galambos, Giselle C. Kolaric, Heather A. Sears, Jennifer L. Maggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Two studies investigated the relation between adolescents' subjective age and their self-reported problem behavior, autonomy, and peer relationships. In Study 1, an older subjective age among 15-year-old girls and boys was correlated significantly and positively with several problem behaviors (e.g., substance use), behavioral autonomy, and aspects of peer relationships such as association with deviant peers and involvement with other-sex peers. In Study 2, data from 9- to 17-year-old adolescents revealed that after controlling for chronological age and pubertal status, subjective age was related significantly to several measures of self-reported problem behavior, behavioral autonomy, and peer relationships. The relations between subjective age and boys' problem behaviors and deviant peer association were curvilinear. The highest levels of these behaviors were reported by boys who felt markedly older than their chronological ages, compared to boys with younger subjective ages. These studies support the notion that subjective age is an indicator of perceived maturity that has at least as much import as chronological age and pubertal status for understanding adolescents' passage to adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-337
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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