The Structure and Coherence of Competence from Childhood through Adolescence

Ann S. Masten, J. Douglas Coatsworth, Jennifer Neemann, Scott D. Gest, Auke Tellegen, Norman Garmezy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

330 Scopus citations


The structure and coherence of competence from childhood (ages 8–12) to late adolescence (ages 17–23) was examined in a longitudinal study of 191 children. Structural equation modeling was utilized to test a conceptual model and alternative models. Results suggest that competence has at least 3 distinct dimensions in childhood and 5 in adolescence. These dimensions reflect developmental tasks related to academic achievement, social competence, and conduct important at both age levels in U.S. society, and the additional tasks of romantic and job competence in adolescence. As hypothesized, rule‐breaking versus rule‐abiding conduct showed strong continuity over time, while academic achievement and social competence showed moderate continuity. Results also were consistent with the hypothesis that antisocial behavior undermines academic attainment and job competence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1635-1659
Number of pages25
JournalChild development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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