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date: 29 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Early pubertal maturation is a risk factor for girls’ internalizing psychopathology. Little is known, however, regarding the mechanisms that link early pubertal maturation and internalizing psychopathology. The authors propose that gender role identity, which is overlooked in the puberty literature, would provide a key to this query. The authors provide an integrative model of pubertal timing, gender role identity, and context to explain the heightened vulnerability to internalizing psychopathology in early maturing girls. Three hypotheses are formulated: (1) early maturation and feminine gender role identity act in concert to increase the likelihood of internalizing psychopathology; (2) puberty-related changes in neuroendocrine systems heighten the risks for internalizing psychopathology when girls are in stressful contexts; and (3) early pubertal timing elicits and accentuates contextual risks, which contribute to the development of internalizing psychopathology. These factors are expected to operate simultaneously and synergistically to contribute to increased emotional problems in early maturing girls.

Keywords: Puberty, gender role identity, early maturation, internalizing psychopathology, female, context

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