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The young people in transition economies face many problems, in addition to delinquent behavior and substance use/abuse. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of four cognitive distortions (measured with the How I Think Questionnaire), as the predictors of 10 functional adolescent problem areas (measured with the Problem-Oriented Screening Instrument for Teenagers). This research was conducted on a sample of 789 students, 471 of which were primary school students and 318 were secondary school students from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republic of Srpska entity). Hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed that self-serving cognitive distortions/assuming the worst impacted substance use/abuse (β = .11, p = .03/ β = .20, p = .00), physical health (β = .12, p = .02/ β = .12, p = .02 ), mental health (β = .18, p = .00/ β = .25, p = .00), family relations (β = .10, p = .04/ β = .23, p = .000), peer relations (β = .14, p = .00/, β = .20, p = .00), educational status (β = .19, p = .00/ β = .22, p = .00), social skills (β =.13, p = .01/ β = .34, p = .00), and aggressive behavior/delinquency (β = .23, p = .00/ β = .15, p = .00). Cognitive distortion of blaming others impacted physical health (β = .14, p = .00), and peer relations (β = .13, p = .00). Cognitive distortions affecting maladaptive behaviors identified in this research are unconscious and negative automatic thoughts. Through cognitive behavioral therapy they can be replaced with more acceptable alternatives. This allows an early identification of children at risk and opens the possibility for early prevention. The results of this research may contribute to a more individualized cognitive behavioral therapy of externalizing disorders and other problematic behaviors in adolescents. This is all the more necessary because human capital is particularly important in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is a small and underdeveloped country.
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