Using two longitudinal data sets, this study examined the impact of an adolescent's anticipation of an early death (AED) on his/her violent behavior and gang activity.
The study found that higher levels of AED corresponded to a greater likelihood of violence and gang activity, with this link often mediated by low self-control. The two data sets used in this study were the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which offers a nationally representative sample of adolescents, and the Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS), which provides a sample of at-risk youth in Rochester, NY. Structural equation modeling quantified adolescent AED in each data set. In an attempt to determine the causal ordering of AED and risk-taking behaviors, the study used the longitudinal nature of the RYDS data by estimating autoregressive cross-lagged panel models. These findings support the life history theory's assumption that AED predicts risk-taking behavior. There was little evidence that engaging in violence or gang activity preceded the emergence of AED. 22 tables, 7 figures, 97 references, and appended coding of project variables by data set and supplementary information on methodological procedures