Patterns of behavioural and emotional difficulties through adolescence: The influence of prosocial skills.


The main purpose of the study was to examine the cluster composition of the analysis on the effect of gender and age of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in a large school-based sample of high school adolescents ranging from 14 to 18 years old (N = 1474). In order to do this, a K-means iterative cluster analysis was performed. A five-cluster solution turned out to be the most parsimonious in the differentiation of emotional and behavioural patterns. A five-cluster solution yielded the following patterns: ‘No difficulties and high prosocial scores’ (n = 418; 28.36%), ‘high difficulties and low prosocial scores’ (n = 239; 16.21%), ‘high on hyperactivity, low on the rest of the difficulties subscales, and high in prosocial capabilities’ (n = 302; 20.49%), ‘high on emotional and peer problems, relatively low on conduct and hyperactivity, and high in prosocial capabilities’ (n = 275; 18.66%), and finally ‘hyperactivity problems and average in the others difficulties subscales, and in prosocial capabilities’ (n = 239; 16.21%). This cluster solution was replicated attending to the same gender and age groups. Nevertheless, differences in the distribution of the cluster composition suggest that difficulties differ by gender and age. The results allow for the conclusion that men reveal a greater number of problems of an externalizing nature whereas women indicate a greater degree of internalizing difficulties and prosocial skills.