The contribution of adolescent effortful control to early adult educational attainment

Marie Hélène Véronneau, Gregory M. Fosco, Kristina Hiatt Racer, Thomas J. Dishion

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30 Scopus citations


Effortful control has been proposed as a set of neurocognitive competencies that is relevant to self-regulation and educational attainment (Posner & Rothbart, 2007). This study tested the hypothesis that a multiagent report of adolescents' effortful control (age 17) would be predictive of academic persistence and educational attainment (age 23-25), after controlling for other established predictors (family factors, problem behavior, grade-point average, and substance use). Participants were 997 students recruited in 6th grade from 3 urban public middle schools (53% males; 42.4% European American; 29.2% African American). Consistent with the hypothesis, the unique association of effortful control with future educational attainment was comparable in strength to that of parental education and students' past grade-point average, suggesting that effortful control contributes to this outcome above and beyond well-established predictors. Path coefficients were equivalent across gender and ethnicity (European Americans and African Americans). Effortful control appears to be a core feature of the self-regulatory competencies associated with achievement of educational success in early adulthood. These findings suggest that the promotion of self-regulation in general and effortful control in particular may be an important focus not only for resilience to stress and avoidance of problem behavior but also for growth in academic competence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-743
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 17 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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