Reassessing the relationship between general intelligence and self-control in childhood

Ryan C. Meldrum, Melissa A. Petkovsek, Brian B. Boutwell, Jacob Young

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    38 Scopus citations


    Intelligence has consistently been recognized as a robust correlate of health, life success, and behavior. Evidence also suggests that intelligence may contribute to another key correlate of behavior: self-control. The current study builds on recent work in this area by examining the association between intelligence and self-control across multiple raters and when accounting for potential confounding influences not accounted for in prior research. Results based on a national sample of U.S. children indicates that higher scores for intelligence are associated with more self-control in both cross-sectional and longitudinal models, even when accounting for prior self-control, child executive functioning, maternal intelligence, and maternal self-control. Moreover, the association persisted across both teacher and mother ratings of child self-control. As such, these findings support and extend prior work examining the nexus between intelligence and self-control, and may explain why both traits are important for understanding success across a host of life outcomes in humans.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


    • Adolescence
    • Childhood
    • Intelligence
    • SECCYD
    • Self-control

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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