Heterogeneity in development of imbalance between impulse control and sensation seeking has not been studied until now. The present study scrutinized this heterogeneity and the link between imbalance and adolescent risk. Seven-wave data of 7,558 youth (50.71% males; age range from 12/13 until 24/25) were used. Three developmental trajectories were identified. The first trajectory, “sensation seeking to balanced sensation seeking”, included participants with a higher level of sensation seeking than impulse control across all ages. The second trajectory, “moderate dominant control”, included participants showing moderate and increasing impulse control relative to sensation seeking across all ages. The third trajectory, “strong late dominant control”, included participants showing the highest level of impulse control which was about as strong as sensation seeking from early to middle adolescence and became substantially stronger from late adolescence to early adulthood. Although the systematic increase of impulse control in all subgroups is in line with both models, neither of these combined trajectories of control and sensation seeking was predicted by the Dual Systems Model or the Maturational Imbalance Model. Consistent with both models the “sensation seeking to balanced sensation seeking” trajectory showed the highest level of substance use. It can be concluded that, even though both theories adequately predict the link between imbalance and risk, neither the Dual Systems Model nor the Maturational Imbalance Model correctly predict the heterogeneity in development of imbalance between impulse control and sensation seeking.

Dual systems models ● Imbalance hypothesis ● Developmental trajectories ● Substance use ● Adolescent risk
dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10964-021-01419-x, hdl.handle.net/1765/135333
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Meeus, W, Vollebergh, W.A.M, Branje, S.J.T, Crocetti, E, Ormel, J, van de Schoot, R, … Becht, A.I. (2021). On Imbalance of Impulse Control and Sensation Seeking and Adolescent Risk. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. doi:10.1007/s10964-021-01419-x