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External-environmental and internal-health early life predictors of adolescent development

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Daniel Nettle



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Cambridge University Press , 2017.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


A wealth of evidence documents associations between various aspects of the rearing environment and later development. Two evolutionary-inspired models advance explanations for why and how such early experiences shape later functioning: (1) the external-prediction model which highlights the role of the early environment (e.g. parenting) in regulating children’s development and (2) the internal-prediction model which emphasizes internal state (i.e., health) as the critical regulator. Thus, by using the current project draws from both models by investigating whether the effect of the early environment on later adolescent functioning is subject to an indirect effect by internal-health variables. Results showed a significant indirect effect of internal health on the relation between the early environment and adolescent behavior. Specifically, early-environmental adversity during the first five years of life predicted lower quality health during childhood which then led to problematic adolescent functioning and earlier age of menarche for girls. Additionally, for girls, early adversity predicted lower quality health which forecasted earlier age of menarche leading to increased adolescent risk taking. The discussion highlights the importance of integrating both internal and external models to further understand the developmental processes that effect adolescent behavior.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hartman S, Li Z, Nettle D, Belsky J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Development and Psychopathology

Year: 2017

Volume: 29

Issue: 5

Pages: 1839-1849

Print publication date: 01/12/2017

Online publication date: 22/11/2017

Acceptance date: 03/02/2017

Date deposited: 06/02/2017

ISSN (print): 0954-5794

ISSN (electronic): 1469-2198

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0954579417001432


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