Researchers have conducted what they say is the first study ever to observe the association between adolescent boys going through puberty and the levels of chemicals they produce that can cause antisocial behavior.
According to a study in the May issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology, a team of researchers found lower levels of a chemical called alpha amylase in boys experiencing early maturity and higher levels of cortisol in boys who went through puberty later in their youth. These chemical levels seemed to be both associated with stress and antisocial behavior.
Researchers tested 135 boys and girls aged 8 to 13 for signs of antisocial behavior, using a child behavior checklist. Behavior listed in this questionnaire included aggression, rule breaking, social and attention problems, defiance as well as conduct disorder. The team also took saliva samples from the children before and after they participated in a stressful laboratory test, which determined the stage of puberty each child was in.
Results from the tests and samples showed that overall, antisocial boys are most characterized by those who matured later in their teens. The team also discovered that boys who experienced puberty earlier were more prone to rule breaking, conduct disorder and being aggressive.