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The Development of Self-Regulation: Stability and Predictive Utility of Laboratory Task Performance Across Childhood and Adolescence

VanDerhei, Susan (2017) The Development of Self-Regulation: Stability and Predictive Utility of Laboratory Task Performance Across Childhood and Adolescence. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The development of self-regulation is dynamic, involving diverse skills and behavioral manifestations that change considerably across childhood and adolescence. The current study uses data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development to analyze performance on laboratory tasks of self-regulation during four meaningful age periods: early childhood (36-54 months), during the transition to formal schooling (1st grade), middle childhood (3rd-5th grade), and adolescence (15 years). Primary research aims were to examine: 1) the developmental stability of self-regulation across childhood and adolescence; 2) how self-regulation at multiple points across development predicts various adaptive and maladaptive indicators of adolescent adjustment; and 3) the unique contribution of very early measures of self-regulation to the prediction of later adjustment.
Latent factors derived from self-regulation task performance during the three childhood age periods were robust and stable over time, indicating that individuals’ rank-order of self-regulation was largely consistent across childhood. Adolescent measures were more problematic. Self-regulation during early and middle childhood differentially predicted adolescent adjustment. Early childhood self-regulation was related to positive attitudes toward school, and aggressive and antisocial behavior a decade later. Self-regulation in middle childhood, on the other hand, predicted academic achievement in adolescence. Very early indicators of self-regulation predicted both adaptive and maladaptive adjustment. Early childhood self-regulation explained unique variance in positive attitudes towards school and aggressive and antisocial behavior, beyond what was explained by self-regulation at later points in development. However, early childhood self-regulation was highly correlated with background characteristics. After accounting for the direct effect of gender, ethnicity, school readiness, and family income on adjustment, early childhood self-regulation did not explain additional variance in adolescent outcomes. Thus, individual variability in early self-regulation is meaningful for predicting later adjustment, but not more so than background characteristics that likely contribute to a child’s preparedness as he/she transitions to formal schooling. Findings illustrate the cascading effect of self-regulation skills from early childhood through adolescence, while also identifying the relative impact of self-regulation across development for predicting adolescent adjustment. Results highlight the importance of early childhood, as early self-regulation lays the foundation for later self-regulation skills, and ultimately, for successful functioning.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
VanDerhei, Susansev10@pitt.edusev10
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairShaw, Danieldanielshaw@pitt.edudanielshaw
Committee MemberCampbell, Susan B.sbcamp@pitt.edusbcamp
Committee MemberSilk, Jennifer S.jss4@pitt.edujss4
Committee MemberWang, Ming-Temtwang@pitt.edumtwang
Date: 2 July 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 April 2017
Approval Date: 2 July 2017
Submission Date: 12 April 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 184
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: self-regulation, development, adolescence, childhood, adjustment
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2017 19:32
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2017 19:32


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