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

9 Citations (Scopus)
141 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
Pages (from-to)335-344
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • bidirectional
  • deviance
  • longitudinal
  • self-regulation


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