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

Autoři: M. A. J. van Tetering aff001;  A. M. van der Laan aff002;  C. H. de Kogel aff002;  R. H. M. de Groot aff003;  J. Jolles aff001
Působiště autorů: Centre for Brain & Learning, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands aff001;  Research and Documentation Centre (WODC), Ministry of Justice and Security, The Hague, The Netherlands aff002;  Institute, Research Centre for Learning, Teaching, and Technology, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands aff003;  NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article


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.

Klíčová slova:

Adolescents – Age groups – Behavior – Cognition – Cognitive psychology – Culture – Neuropsychology – Schools


1. Anderson P. Assessment and development of executive function during childhood. Child Neuropsychology. 2002;8(2): 71–82. doi: 10.1076/chin. 12638061

2. Diamond A. Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology. 2013;64: 135–168. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143750 23020641

3. Hofmann W, Schmeichel BJ, Baddeley AD. Executive functions and self- regulation. Trends in cognitive sciences. 2012;16(3): 174–180. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2012.01.006 22336729

4. Jolles J. Het tienerbrein: over de adolescent tussen biologie en omgeving. Amsterdam, NH: Amsterdam University Press; 2016.

5. King KM, McLaughlin KA, Silk J, Monahan KC. Peer effects on self-regulation in adolescence depend on the nature and quality of the peer interaction. Development and Psychopathology. 2018;30(4): 1389–1401. doi: 10.1017/S0954579417001560 29157328

6. Perry NB, Calkins SD, Dollar JM, Keane SP, Shanahan L. Self-regulation as a predictor of patterns of change in externalizing behaviors from infancy to adolescence. Development and psychopathology. 2018;30(2): 497–510. doi: 10.1017/S0954579417000992 28641597

7. Van Tetering MAJ, De Groot RH, Jolles J. Teacher-Evaluated Self-Regulation Is Related to School Achievement and Influenced by Parental Education in Schoolchildren Aged 8–12: A Case–Control Study. Frontiers in psychology. 2018;9: 438. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00438 29670557

8. Gardner TW, Dishion TJ, Connell AM. Adolescent self-regulation as resilience: Resistance to antisocial behavior within the deviant peer context. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 2008;36(2): 273–284. doi: 10.1007/s10802-007-9176-6 17899361

9. Skibbe LE, Montroy JJ, Bowles RP, Morrison FJ. Self-regulation and the development of literacy and language achievement from preschool through second grade. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. 2018;46: 240–251. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2018.02.005 30636841

10. Van Batenburg-Eddes T, Jolles J. How does emotional wellbeing relate to underachievement in a general population sample of young adolescents: a neurocognitive perspective. Frontiers in psychology. 2013;4: 673. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00673 24098291

11. Duan L, Chou CP, Andreeva VA, Pentz MA. Trajectories of peer social influences as long-term predictors of drug use from early through late adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 2009;38(3): 454–465. doi: 10.1007/s10964-008-9310-y 19636757

12. Cotton DRE, Joyner M, George R, Cotton PA. Understanding the gender and ethnicity attainment gap in UK higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. 2016;53(5): 475–486. doi: 10.1080/14703297.2015.1013145

13. Driessen G, Van Langen A. Mogelijke verklaringen voor onderwijsachterstanden van jongens. Pedagogiek. 2011;31(2): 155‐171. doi: 10.5117/PED2011.2.DRIE

14. Jarman J, Blackburn RM, Racko G. The dimensions of occupational gender segregation in industrial countries. Sociology; 2012;46(6): 1003–1019. doi: 10.1177/0038038511435063

15. Legewie J, DiPrete TA. School context and the gender gap in educational achievement. American Sociological Review. 2012;77(3): 463–485. doi: 10.1177/0003122412440802

16. Miller DI, Halpern DF. The new science of cognitive sex differences. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2014;18(1): 37–45. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.10.011 24246136

17. OECD. The ABC of Gender Equality in Education: Aptitude, Behaviour, Confidence. PISA: OECD Publishing; 2015. doi: 10.1787/9789264229945-en

18. Baars MA, Nije Bijvank MN, Tonnaer GH, Jolles J. Self-report measures of executive functioning are a determinant of academic performance in first-year students at university of applied sciences. Frontiers in Psychology. 2015;6. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00006

19. Dekker S, Krabbendam L, Lee NC, Boschloo AM, De Groot RHM, Jolles J. Dominant goal orientations predict differences in academic achievement during adolescence through metacognitive self-regulation. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology. 2016;6(1): 47–58. doi: 10.5539/jedp.v6n1p47

20. Lee NC, De Groot RHM, Boschloo A, Dekker SJ, Krabbendam L, Jolles J. Age and educational track influence adolescent discounting of delayed rewards. Frontiers in Psychology. 2013;4: 993. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00993 24421778

21. Gerst EH, Cirino PT, Fletcher JM, Yoshida H. Cognitive and behavioral rating measures of executive function as predictors of academic outcomes in children. Child Neuropsychology. 2015;23(4): 381–407. doi: 10.1080/09297049.2015.1120860

22. Van Tetering MAJ, Jolles J. Teacher evaluations of executive functioning in schoolchildren aged 9–12 and the influence of age, sex, level of parental education. Frontiers in psychology. 2017;8: 481. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00481 28421010

23. Heron MP. Deaths: Leading causes for 2012. National Vital Statistics Reports. 2015;64(10): 1–93. 26759854

24. Zuckerman M, Kuhlman DM. Personality and risk‐taking: common biosocial factors. Journal of Personality. 2000;68(6): 999–1029. doi: 10.1111/1467-6494.00124 11130742

25. Bertrand M, Pan J. The trouble with boys: Social influences and the gender gap in disruptive behavior. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 2013;5(1): 32–64. doi: 10.3386/w17541

26. Gottfredson MR, Hirschi T. A general theory of crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press; 1990.

27. Lightdale JR, Prentice DA. Rethinking sex differences in aggression: Aggressive behaviour in the absence of social roles. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 1994;20(1): 34–44. doi: 10.1177/0146167294201003

28. Shulman EP, Harden KP, Chein JM, Steinberg L. Sex differences in the developmental trajectories of impulse control and sensation-seeking from early adolescence to early adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 2015;44(1): 1–17. doi: 10.1007/s10964-014-0116-9 24682958

29. Lenroot RK, Giedd JN. Sex differences in the adolescent brain. Brain and Cognition. 2010;72(1): 46‐55. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2009.10.008 19913969

30. Gur RE, Gur RC. Sex differences in brain and behavior in adolescence: Findings from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2016;70: 159–170. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.07

31. Vijayakumar N, Allen NB, Youssef G, Dennison M, Yücel M, Simmons JG, et al. Brain development during adolescence: A mixed‐longitudinal investigation of cortical thickness, surface area, and volume. Human brain mapping. 2016;37(6): 2027–2038. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23154 26946457

32. Arvanitakis Z, Leurgans SE, Fleischman DA, Schneider JA, Rajan KB, Pruzin JJ, et al. Memory complaints, dementia, and neuropathology in older blacks and whites. Annals of Neurology. 2018;83(4): 718–729. doi: 10.1002/ana.25189 29466839

33. Byerley AK, Donders J. Clinical utility of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function–Self-Report (BRIEF–SR) in adolescents with traumatic brain injury. Rehabilitation psychology. 2013;58(4): 412. doi: 10.1037/a0034228 24041251

34. Duman NS, Gökten ES, Duman R, Duman R, Çevik SG. Evaluation of depression and anxiety levels in mothers of babies' following due to premature retinopathy. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. 2018;32(3): 439–443. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2017.12.011 29784227

35. Van Der Elst W, Van Der Hoogenhout E, Dixon RA, De Groot HM, Jolles J. The Dutch Memory Compensation Questionnaire: Psychometric Properties and Regression-Based Norms. Assessment. 2011;18: 517–529. doi: 10.1177/1073191110370116 20519736

36. Hoogenhout EM, Van Der Elst E, De Groot RHM, Van Boxtel MPJ, Jolles J. The Neurovegetative Complaints Questionnaire in the Maastricht Aging Study: psychometric properties and normative data. Aging and Mental Health. 2010;14(5): 613–623. doi: 10.1080/13607861003587297 20480418

37. Long EC, Hill J, Luna B, Verhulst B, Clark DB. Disruptive behavior disorders and indicators of disinhibition in adolescents: The BRIEF-SR, anti-saccade task, and D-KEFS color–word interference test. Journal of adolescence. 2015;44: 182–190. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2015.07.003 26277405

38. Rast P, Zimprich D, Van Boxtel MPJ, Jolles J. Factor Structure and Measurement Invariance of the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire Across the adult life span. Assessment. 2009;16(2): 145–158. doi: 10.1177/1073191108324440 19066391

39. Tinson D, Crockford C, Gharooni S, Russell H, Zoeller S, Leavy Y, et al. Memory complaints in epilepsy: An examination of the role of mood and illness perceptions. Epilepsy & Behavior. 2018;80: 221–228. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2017.11.028 29414556

40. Zabel TA, Jacobson LA, Zachik C, Levey E, Kinsman S, Mahone EM. Parent-and self-ratings of executive functions in adolescents and young adults with spina bifida. The Clinical Neuropsychologist. 2011;25(6): 926–941. doi: 10.1080/13854046.2011.586002 21955110

41. Van der Elst W, Ouwehand C, Van Der Werf G, Kuyper H, Lee N, Jolles J. The Amsterdam Executive Function Inventory (AEFI): psychometric properties and demographically corrected normative data for adolescents aged between 15 and 18 years. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology. 2012;34(2): 160–171. doi: 10.1080/13803395.2011.625353 22111557

42. Huizinga M, Smidts DP. Age-related changes in executive function: A normative study with the Dutch version of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF). Child Neuropsychology. 2010;17(1): 51–66. doi: 10.1080/09297049.2010.509715 21218296

43. Lengua LJ, Sandler IN, West SG, Wolchik SA, Curran PJ. Emotionality and self-regulation, threat appraisal, and coping in children of divorce. Development and Psychopathology. 1999;11: 15–37. doi: 10.1017/s0954579499001935 10208354

44. Raffaelli M, Crockett LJ, Shen YL. Developmental stability and change in self-regulation from childhood to adolescence. The Journal of Genetic Psychology. 2005;166(1): 54–76. doi: 10.3200/GNTP.166.1.54-76 15782678

45. Else-Quest NM, Hyde JS, Goldsmith HH, Van Hulle CA. Gender differences in temperament: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin. 2006;132: 33–72. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.132.1.33 16435957

46. Duell N, Steinberg L, Chein J, Al-Hassan SM, Bacchini D, Lei C, et al. Interaction of reward seeking and self-regulation in the prediction of risk taking: A cross-national test of the dual systems model. Developmental psychology. 2016;52(10): 1593. doi: 10.1037/dev0000152 27598251

47. Turner MG, Piquero AR. The stability of self-control. Journal of Criminal Justice. 2002;30(6): 457–471. doi: 10.1016/S0047-2352(02)00169-1

48. Winfree LT Jr, Taylor TJ, He N, Esbensen FA. Self-control and variability over time: Multivariate results using a 5-year, multisite panel of youths. Crime & Delinquency. 2016;52(2): 253–286. doi: 10.1177/0011128705278012

49. Hadjicharalambous MZ, Fanti KA. Self-regulation, cognitive capacity and risk taking: investigating heterogeneity among adolescents with callous-unemotional traits. Child Psychiatry & Human Development. 2018;49(3): 331–340. doi: 10.1007/s10578-017-0753-9 28849331

50. Steinberg L, Morris AS. Adolescent development. Annual review of psychology. 2001;52(1): 83–110. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.83 11148300

51. Curtis AC. Defining Adolescence. Journal of Adolescent and Family Health. 2015;7: 2. [available at:]

52. Steinberg L, Icenogle G, Shulman EP, Breiner K, Chein J, Bacchini D, et al. Around the world, adolescence is a time of heightened sensation seeking and immature self‐regulation. Developmental science. 2018;21(2): 1–13. doi: 10.1111/desc.12532 28150391

53. Van Der Laan AM, Beerthuizen MG, Weijters G. Jeugdige daders van online-Criminaliteit. Meten is Weten. 2016;41: 145.

54. Loeber R, Farrington DP. Age-Crime Curve. In: Bruinsma G., Weisburd D. (Eds.), Encyclopaedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. New York, NY: Springer; 2014. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_474

55. Tuvblad C, Eley TC, Lichtenstein P. The development of antisocial behaviour from childhood to adolescence. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2005;14(4): 216–225. doi: 10.1007/s00787-005-0458-7 15981133

56. Van Tetering MAJ, De Groot RH, Jolles J. Boy–Girl Differences in Pictorial Verbal Learning in Students Aged 8–12 Years and the Influence of Parental Education. Frontiers in Psychology. 2018;9. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01380 30135667

57. Bakker BF, Van Rooijen J, Van Toor L. The system of social statistical datasets of Statistics Netherlands: An integral approach to the production of register-based social statistics. Statistical Journal of the IAOS. 2014;30(4): 411–424. doi: 10.3233/SJI-140803

58. Stoop IA. The hunt for the last respondent: Nonresponse in sample surveys. The Hague (NH): Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau; 2005.

59. Nije Bijvank M, Tonnaer GH, Jolles J. Self-perceived problems in sleeping and in self-control are related to first year study success in higher education. Frontiers in Education. 2017;2: 14. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2017.00014

60. Clark LA, Watson D. Constructing validity: Basic issues in objective scale development. Psychological Assessment. 1995;7: 309–319. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.7.3.309

61. Ferketich S. Focus on psychometrics. Aspects of item analysis. Research in Nursing & Health. 1991;14: 16–168. doi: 10.1002/nur.4770140211 2047538

62. Rom DM. An improved Hochberg procedure for multiple tests of significance. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology. 2013;66(1): 189–196. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8317.2012.02042.x 23330866

63. Choy O, Raine A, Venables PH, Farrington DP. Explaining the gender gap in crime: The role of heart rate. Criminology. 2017;55(2): 465–487. doi: 10.1111/1745-9125.12138

64. Moffitt TE, Caspi A, Rutter M, Silva PA. Sex differences in antisocial behaviour: Conduct disorder, delinquency, and violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2001.

65. Arnett AB, Pennington BF, Willcutt EG, DeFries JC, Olson RK. Sex differences in ADHD symptom severity. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2015;56(6): 632–639. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12337 25283790

66. Mathis MAD, Alvarenga PD, Funaro G, Torresan RC, Moraes I, Torres AR, et al. Gender differences in obsessive-compulsive disorder: a literature review. Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry. 2011;33(4): 390–399. doi: 10.1590/s1516-44462011000400014 22189930

67. Weafer J, De Wit H. Sex differences in impulsive action and impulsive choice. Addictive Behaviors. 2014;39: 1573–1579. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.10.033 24286704

68. Camarata S, Woodcock R. Sex differences in processing speed: Developmental effects in males and females. Intelligence. 2006;34(3): 231–252. doi: 10.1016/j.intell.2005.12.001

69. Cross CP, Copping LT, Campbell A. Sex differences in impulsivity: A meta‐analysis. Psychological Bulletin. 2011;137: 97–130. doi: 10.1037/a0021591 21219058

70. Van Tetering M, Van Der Donk M, De Groot RHM, Jolles J. Sex differences in the performance of 7–12 year olds on a mental rotation task and the relation with arithmetic performance. Frontiers in psychology. 2019;10. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00107 30761050

71. Steinberg L. Age of opportunity: Lessons from the new science of adolescence. Boston (MA): Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2014.

72. Kautz T, Heckman JJ, Diris R, Ter Weel B, Borghans L. Fostering and measuring skills: Improving cognitive and non-cognitive skills to promote lifetime success. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research; 2014.

73. Fine A, Steinberg L, Frick PJ, Cauffman E. Self-control assessments and implications for predicting adolescent offending. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 2016;45(4): 701–712. doi: 10.1007/s10964-016-0425-2 26792266

74. Adams HE, Sutker PB. Comprehensive handbook of psychopathology. New York: Springer Science & Business Media; 2007.

75. Steinberg L, Albert D, Cauffman E, Banich M, Graham S, Woolard J. Age differences in sensation seeking and impulsivity as indexed by behavior and self-report: evidence for a dual systems model. Developmental Psychology. 2008;44(6): 1764–1778. doi: 10.1037/a0012955 18999337

Článek vyšel v časopise


2020 Číslo 1
Nejčtenější tento týden