or health. For example, various causal models of the links between conduct and academic competence have been developed (e.g., see Hinshaw, 1992).
One longitudinal study of a community cohort of 205 children assessed three dimensions of competence in childhood (academic, social, and conduct) and five dimensions of competence in late adolescence (academic, social, conduct, job, and romantic) (Project Competence; Masten, Burt, and Coatsworth, 2006). Conduct competence (following rules in salient social contexts) in childhood proved to be more likely to lead to academic competence in adolescence than the reverse pathway (see Hinshaw, 1992, for a discussion of alternative causal models of the links between conduct and academic competence). Masten and colleagues proposed the concept of developmental cascades to refer to the process by which competence and problems become linked across time. Illustratively, their study found externalizing, or primarily behavioral, problems (e.g., conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder) in childhood leads to lower academic competence in adolescence, which in turn leads to increased internalizing, or primarily emotional, problems (e.g., anxiety, depression) in young adulthood (Masten, Roisman, et al., 2005).
In another study of 1,438 adolescents in two urban, high-poverty public schools in Baltimore and New York (Seidman and Pedersen, 2003), competence was conceptualized as the interaction of the individual with several social contexts: peer, athletic, academic, religious, employment, and cultural. Nine different profiles of engagement with these contexts emerged and showed differing associations with indicators of positive mental health (self-esteem) and mental health problems (depression and delinquency). Youth who were positively engaged in two or more settings had higher self-esteem and lower depression. However, high engagement in athletic contexts along with low engagement in cultural or academic contexts was associated with high rates of delinquency. These authors propose that studying homogeneous at-risk populations can identify diverse profiles of competence (positive or negative) that might be obscured by studying more heterogeneous populations or by studying each aspect of competence separately (Seidman and Pedersen, 2003). Werner and Smith (1982, 1992), in a series of classic studies of youth at high risk on the island of Hawaii, also argue that the resources a child needs to successfully develop vary by developmental stage. Early in life, a close relationship with the primary caregiver is crucially important, whereas in adolescence, the presence of mentors and opportunities in school and the neighborhood are crucial.
Although there are no universally accepted taxonomy or agreed-on measures of positive mental health, several groups have attempted to inte-