Early Patterns of Self-Regulation as Risk and Promotive Factors in Development: A Longitudinal Study from Childhood to Adulthood in a High-Risk Sample

Int J Behav Dev. 2012 Jul 1;36(4):293-302. doi: 10.1177/0165025412444076. Epub 2012 Jun 13.


The present study examines two childhood markers of self-regulation, ego-control and ego-resiliency, as promotive factors for the development of global adjustment and as risk factors for the development of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems in a high-risk sample. Teachers and observers rated ego-control and ego-resiliency when participants (n = 136) were in preschool and elementary school. Ratings showed evidence for convergent and discriminant validity and stability over time. Ego-resiliency, but not ego-control, emerged as powerful predictor of adaptive functioning at age 19 and 26, as well as internalizing and externalizing problems at 16, 23, 26, and 32 years. We interpret these findings as evidence that flexibility and adaptability -measured with ego-resiliency- may reduce risk and promote successful adaptation in low-SES environments.