Derailment in adolescence: Factor analytic structure and correlates

Kaylin Ratner, Gaoxia Zhu, Qingyi Li, Marissa Rice, Melody Estevez, Anthony L. Burrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Derailment is the sense of being “off-course” in life. But what could this mean for adolescents, who are often establishing identity and self-direction for the first time? We examined the structure and correlates of the Derailment Scale and its short form, the Derailment Scale-6 (DS-6), among middle-to-late adolescents (N = 452). Both scales exhibited unidimensionality, but the DS-6 demonstrated superior fit and correlated with cross-sectional distress markers (e.g., greater depression, lower life satisfaction, strained sense of purpose). Breaking from adult-based research, we failed to find evidence that derailment related to adolescent identity exploration and commitment. In extending assessment of derailment to adolescence, this study invites exploration of this experience during a time characterized by substantial transition and the emergence of stable self-views.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
StateE-pub ahead of print - Apr 29 2024


  • adjustment
  • adolescence
  • confirmatory factor analysis
  • identity
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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