Bidirectional associations between self-regulation and deviance from adolescence to adulthood

Eva Billen*, Carlo Garofalo, Josh Weller, L. Kirisci, Maureen Reynolds, R.E. Tarter, Stefan Bogaerts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


Self-regulation is considered a major predictor of crime and deviant behavior. However, longitudinal research investigating these associations, frequently looked only at the effect of self-regulation on deviant behavior, but not the other way around. The current study argued that deviance may contribute to later problems in self-regulation, and examined bidirectional associations, comparing a unidirectional and bidirectional model of associations between these variables. A Random Intercept Cross-Lagged Panel Model and eight data waves from 772 participants, aged 10–12 years to 30 years were used. Results showed that a bidirectional model fit the data better than a unidirectional model. The final model revealed an influence of deviance on self-regulation mainly in adolescence, whereas self-regulation influenced deviance only over two time points in adulthood. The results suggest that, in adolescence, problems in self-regulation may follow, rather than precede deviant behavior. Thus, decreasing deviant behavior or intervening in the aftermaths of deviant behavior in adolescence might have a positive effect on self-regulation in young adulthood, lowering the chance of adult deviant behavior. The current study shows that the long-presumed directionality of self-regulation to deviance can lead to bias, and more rigorous longitudinal research is needed in order to further inform theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • bidirectional
  • deviance
  • longitudinal
  • self-regulation


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