Objective: Effortful control (EC) has been conceptualized as a higher-order construct defined by a class of self-regulatory mechanisms. However, the developmental higher-order structure of EC has seldom been investigated with a thorough psychometric analysis. To begin to fill this gap in the literature, data were obtained from parents and teachers of 185 children (age at T1: M = 9.43 y/o, SD = 1.17) every 2 years for 8 years. Method: We used a structural equation modeling approach for assessing if EC develops as a higher-order factor superordinate to three commonly studied self-regulatory mechanisms, namely inhibitory control (IC), attention focusing (AF), and attention shifting (AS). Results: Results showed that (a) IC, AF, and AS followed a similar pattern of growth, (b) EC displayed an acceptable degree of scalar longitudinal invariance when operationalized as a latent variable indicated by IC, AF, and AS, (c) a higher-order structure explained the co-development of IC, AF, and AS, and (d) stability and change in EC negatively predicted externalizing symptoms, much better than the stability and change of IC, AF, and AS, but only for parents' reports. Conclusion: Overall, the higher-order structure of EC was supported, but our results also indicated that there is a certain degree of uniqueness in its facets.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology