Sex differences in self-regulation in early, middle and late adolescence: A large-scale cross-sectional study

Marleen van Tetering, A. M. van der Laan, Cathy de Kogel, R.H.M. de Groot, Jelle Jolles

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Abstract

This large-scale cross-sectional study had the aim to investigate whether adolescent males and females differ in self-perceived self-regulation. The large sample size allowed us to investigate sex differences in three age-groups of young (n = 161), middle (n = 133) and late (n = 159) adolescents. Self-regulation was evaluated with a self-report questionnaire, the Amsterdam Executive Functioning Inventory (AEFI). This questionnaire gives a proxi for three executive functions that are important for proper self-regulation: (1) self-control & self-monitoring, (2) attention, and (3) planning & initiative taking. Results revealed clear sex differences in the self-regulation as perceived by mid-adolescents (i.e., 13–16 years). In this age period, females evaluated their attention higher than males, and they reported higher levels of self-control & self-monitoring. Our findings offer important new insights with respect to the decision making, academic achievements and behaviour of 13-16-year olds. Self-regulation is known to have a central role in academic achievement and in behavioural organisation. The sex differences in self-regulation in mid-adolescence may therefore explain part of the difference which males and females in this age-group exhibit in academic achievements and behavioural organisations. The results imply that self-regulation may be a relevant intervention target: rather than focussing on changing behaviour, interventions may focus more on self-insights and thereby changing the adolescent’s perceptions about their behaviour. Increased self-insight may have the potency to actually change behaviour, which might be an interesting target for future investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0227607
Number of pages17
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior/psychology
  • Attention
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Self Concept
  • Self Report
  • Self-Control
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult
  • EXECUTIVE FUNCTION
  • BEHAVIOR RATING INVENTORY
  • QUESTIONNAIRE
  • BRAIN
  • PSYCHOMETRIC PROPERTIES
  • RISK-TAKING
  • BRIEF-SR
  • SOCIAL INFLUENCES
  • ANTISOCIAL-BEHAVIOR
  • GENDER-DIFFERENCES

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