Individual differences in the development of sensation seeking and impulsivity during adolescence: further evidence for a dual systems model.
ABSTRACT Consistent with social neuroscience perspectives on adolescent development, previous cross-sectional research has found diverging mean age-related trends for sensation seeking and impulsivity during adolescence. The present study uses longitudinal data on 7,640 youth from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth Children and Young Adults, a nationally representative sample assessed biennially from 1994 to 2006. Latent growth curve models were used to investigate mean age-related changes in self-reports of impulsivity and sensation seeking from ages 12 to 24 years, as well individual differences in these changes. Three novel findings are reported. First, impulsivity and sensation seeking showed diverging patterns of longitudinal change at the population level. Second, there was substantial person-to-person variation in the magnitudes of developmental change in both impulsivity and sensation seeking, with some teenagers showing rapid changes as they matured and others maintaining relatively constant levels with age. Finally, the correlation between age-related changes in impulsivity and sensation seeking was modest and not significant. Together, these results constitute the first support for the dual systems model of adolescent development to derive from longitudinal behavioral data.