For the young adult, entering tertiary education brings inevitable pressures and stresses. Faced with these stressors, students are vulnerable to internalizing problems. Both the social cognitive theory of self-regulation and hot/cool system theory suggest that while self-control plays a crucial role in protecting against internalizing problems in college students, such internalizing problems can also impair self-control. To test this idea, the present study used a two-wave longitudinal design, spanning 6 months apart, to investigate the predictive effect of self-control on subsequent internalizing problems and, conversely, the effect of internalizing problems on later self-control among college freshmen. As predicted, the results of cross-lagged model supported a bidirectional association between self-control and internalizing problems. Theoretically, these findings suggest a spiral development of self-control in relation to internalizing problems during emerging adulthood. Practically, intervention programs may target both issues of self-control and internalizing problems to optimize the psychological health of college freshmen. Copyright © 2019 Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood and SAGE Publishing.
CitationSitu, Q.-M., Li, J.-B., Dou, K., & Wang, Y.-J. (2019). Bidirectional association between self-control and internalizing problems among college freshmen: A cross-lagged study. Emerging Adulthood. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/2167696819862174
- Internalizing problems
- Cross-lagged study
- College students