Behavioral difficulties and social adjustment by sex/gender : Understanding risk and protective factors, including service use, that shape developmental trajectories from childhood to adulthood

Principal investigator


Vincent Bégin, Stéphanie Boutin, Michèle Déry, Gabrielle Garon-Carrier, Angélique Laurent, Yann Le Corff, Jean-Pascal Lemelin, Marie-Josée Letarte, Alexa Martin-Storey, Daniel Paquette, Geneviève Paquette, Martine Poirier, Caroline E. Temcheff

Project status:


April 2020 - March 2024


Our team's research focus is on behavioural difficulties (BD) and social adjustment in girls and boys from childhood through the transition to adulthood. It places a strong emphasis on sex, and, more recently, gender differences. Although in recent years studies have increasingly included girls with BD, we need to know more about the mechanisms and factors involved in the development and evolution of BD as well as those that favour the social adjustment of girls in comparison to boys. In addition to the fact that BD may manifest differently in girls, and that the level of risk factors or the nature of protective factors related to BD may differ by sex or gender, girls with BD also have a different kind of vulnerability than boys to other adjustment problems, including the development of various personality disorders and other mental health disorders. The sex- and gender-specific factors and mechanisms that explain these differences remain understudied. Such knowledge is essential for defining preventive actions and guiding support services in the education, health, and social services sectors, which are often less sensitive to sex/gender differences and less used by girls than boys with BD. Our programming is based on these questions and is deployed in three areas. The projects in Axis 1 are evaluative in nature and focus on the preschool period and the transition to elementary school. They aim to establish strategies for detecting emerging sex- and gender-sensitive BD and to better equip parents and teachers to intervene on these difficulties. The studies in Axes 2 and 3 opt for longitudinal designs and concern various periods of development. Those of Axis 2 aim to establish the risk and protective factors related to the developmental trajectories of BD, the resilience process and social adjustment in a context of adversity. These studies are notable for their examination of factors that have been shown to be sensitive to sex/gender differences (e.g., relationship ties). Finally, projects in Axis 3 focus on sex/gender differences in the developmental webs that link BD to other coping problems (e.g., personality disorders, internalizing disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, addictions) and in the mechanisms of these co-occurrences. These three research areas integrate both basic and applied studies to better understand sex/gender differences and the impact and consequences of services and interventions for girls and boys. In addition, while these studies are most often based on quantitative measures, most include a qualitative component that values the views of girls and boys on their adjustment journey.

Funding Organization:

Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et Culture (FRQSC) - Soutien aux équipes de recherche
Axis 1:
Facilitate the development of adaptive capacities in children who are at risk due to personal or environmental characteristics.
Axis 2:
Change the developmental pathways and the trajectories of children who have difficulties due to their individual or environment-level characteristics.
Axis 3:
Support the adjustment of people experiencing the consequences of adjustment difficulties during developmental transition periods.