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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2018 Dec 13. doi: 10.1037/pspp0000224. [Epub ahead of print]

"Same but different": Associations between multiple aspects of self-regulation, cognition, and academic abilities.

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Department of Psychology.


Self-regulation describes the ability to control both behaviors and internal states against a backdrop of conflicting or distracting situations, drives, or impulses. In the cognitive psychology tradition, individual differences in self-regulation are commonly measured with performance-based tests of executive functioning, whereas in the personality psychology tradition, individual differences in self-regulation are typically assessed with report-based measures of impulse control, sustained motivation, and perseverance. The goal of this project was (a) to comprehensively examine the structure of associations between multiple self-regulatory constructs stemming from the cognitive and personality psychology traditions; (b) to estimate how these constructs, individually and collectively, related to mathematics and reading ability beyond psychometric measures of processing speed and fluid intelligence; and (c) to estimate the extent to which genetic and environmental factors mediated the observed associations. Data were available for 1,019 child participants from the Texas Twin Project (M age = 10.79, range = 7.8-15.5). Results highlighted the differentiation among cognitive and personality aspects of self-regulation, both at observed and genetic levels. After accounting for processing speed and fluid intelligence, EF remained a significant predictor of reading and mathematics ability. Educationally relevant measures of personality-particularly an openness factor representing curiosity and intellectual self-concept-incrementally contributed to individual differences in reading ability. Collectively, measures of cognition, self-regulation, and other educationally relevant aspects of personality accounted for the entirety of genetic variance in mathematics and reading ability. The current findings point to the important independent role that each construct plays in academic settings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).


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