STAGE 4. Selecting the theoretical approach

What steps should be completed?

Step 1: Select the theoretical approach or approaches on which the intervention will be based


What are its bases?

It attempts to explain antisocial behaviour, which the authors frame by drug abuse, through the specification of predictive relationships for development, placing great emphasis on risk factors and protection factors. Its starting point is that prosocial behaviour and problem behaviour originate from the same processes and both will depend on the links established with socialisation environments. An individual’s behaviour will be prosocial or antisocial depending on the behaviours, norms and predominant values of those to whom they are linked.

Its main assumptions are: 1) Human beings are satisfaction-seekers and people engage in some behaviours or others according to the satisfaction they expect to obtain from them, and 2) There is normative consensus in society; some "rules of the game".

The model (approach) suggests that children learn behavioural patterns, whether prosocial or antisocial, from socialisation agents (family, school, peer group, religious group and other community institutions). Two parallel processes take place during socialisation: one generates links with prosocial environments, inhibiting deviant behaviours; the other creates ties with antisocial factors, promoting problem behaviours. The final result will depend on the relative strength of these two processes: if the prosocial links are stronger, antisocial behaviours are not developed, and if the antisocial links are predominant, socially deviant behaviour arises.

Which determinants can be addressed?

This model (approach) links behaviour with personal and environmental determinants. Personal determinants include general cognitive, emotional and behavioural skills, personal skills and resources to develop interactions and skills to deal with social situations. Environmental determinants include perceived opportunities to participate in the prosocial order, involvement in activities, behaviours and interactions (prosocial or antisocial), perceived reinforcement of activities and behaviours (prosocial or antisocial) and the affective bond with parents.

Practical implications

According to this model (approach), preventive interventions should be adapted to each developmental stage, implementing multicomponent actions that affect the different dimensions of social influence. There is also a need to provide positive socialisation opportunities, promote positive emotion management and intervene early in development and behaviours, as current behaviours are determined by previous behaviours.



Catalano RF & Hawkins D. (1996). The social development model: A theory of antisocial behaviour. In: J. Hawkins, ed., Delinquency and crime. Current theories. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp.198–235.