Executive Control in Early Childhood as an Antecedent of Adolescent Problem Behaviors: A Longitudinal Study with Performance-based Measures of Early Childhood Cognitive Processes

Charles B. Fleming, Amy L. Stevens, Marla Vivero, Irina Patwardhan, Timothy D. Nelson, Jennifer Mize Nelson, Tiffany D. James, Kimberly Andrews Espy, W. Alex Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Identifying childhood cognitive processes that predict adolescent problem behaviors can help guide understanding and prevention of these behaviors. In a community sample of 313 youth recruited in a small Midwestern city between 2006 and 2012 (49% male, 64% European American), executive control and foundational cognitive abilities were assessed at age 5 in a lab setting with performance-based measures. In adolescence, youth provided self-report of problem behaviors in surveys administered annually between ages 14 and 16. Executive control was negatively associated with externalizing behavior problems and adolescents getting in trouble at school, accounting for foundational cognitive abilities and family background covariates. Executive control had negative, but nonsignificant, associations with internalizing problems and substance use initiation. The findings point to deficits in executive control as a childhood risk factor for later problems and a potential target for preventive interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2429-2440
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Volume49
Issue number12
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Executive control
  • Externalizing problems
  • Foundational cognitive abilities
  • Internalizing problems
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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