Does Self-Control Influence Maternal Attachment? A Reciprocal Effects Analysis from Early Childhood Through Middle Adolescence

Ryan C. Meldrum, Jacob Young, Carter Hay, Jamie L. Flexon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purpose of this study is twofold. First, this study assesses the extent to which self-control and maternal attachment mutually influence one another. Second, it investigates whether this process continues to occur during adolescence. To date, studies of the etiology of self-control have yet to adequately address these issues, despite the fact that a number of theoretical perspectives emphasize the reciprocal nature of the parent-child relationship. Methods: The current study seeks to shed light on these issues by examining the relationship between self-control and maternal attachment using structural equation modeling for eight waves of data spanning a period of time that encompasses early childhood through middle adolescence. Results: The results yield two findings bearing on the adequacy of Gottfredson and Hirschi's model of self-control development. First, measures of self-control and maternal attachment were found to mutually influence one another during childhood. Second, these effects were reduced to nonsignificance during adolescence. Conclusions: This study finds that self-control emerges during childhood in a complex manner in which it both shapes and is shaped by parental attachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-699
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Quantitative Criminology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012



  • Adolescence
  • Attachment
  • Child effects
  • Childhood
  • Reciprocal effects
  • Self-control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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