Early models of behavior development tended to de-emphasize the importance of the middle childhood years, labeling this time period a “latency” phase between the theoretically more active periods of early childhood and adolescence (Freud, 1923/1961). As more recent models attest, middle childhood actually is a period critical for the development of important psychosocial functions such as cognitive skill acquisition (e.g., Piaget, 1965), social relationship formation (e.g., McHale, Dariotis, & Kauh, 2003), and self-concept consolidation (e.g., Jacobs, Bleeker, & Constantino, 2003). Contemporary social cognitive theories consider middle childhood a critical time for the development of social scripts, normative beliefs, and world schemas that influence behavior throughout life (Huesmann, 1998; Huesmann & Guerra, 1997). Behaviors established in middle childhood have been shown to display substantial continuity into adulthood (e.g., aggression: Huesmann, Eron, Lefkowtiz, & Walder, 1984; academic achievement: Jimerson, Egeland, Sroufe, & Carlson, 2000). A key concern therefore is identifying which factors exert important influences on children during middle childhood and what adult outcomes are affected by those factors.
In this chapter, we present findings from the Columbia County Longitudinal Study (CCLS), a long-term prospective study that began in 1960 with the entire third grade population of Columbia County, New York. In the most recent wave of data collection, we resampled those individuals at approximately 48 years of age. Our primary concern in this chapter is the degree to which family-contextual and child-personal factors during middle childhood predict three important domains of adult behavioral outcomes: aggressive behavior, intellectual/educational achievement, and occupational success. We also examine the moderating effects of gender on the prediction of adult outcomes.