Differential Impact of a Universal Prevention Program on Academic Self-Efficacy: the Moderating Role of Baseline Self-Control

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Self-control (SC) plays a critical role in development across the life course; poor SC is a common antecedent of outcomes with high public health and societal burden including lower educational and occupational attainment, problem substance use, depression, obesity, and antisocial behavior. Further, SC is associated with academic self-efficacy and academic success; therefore, optimizing SC in early childhood could have long-term health and educational implications. However, it remains unknown whether the impact of early childhood prevention programs varies by baseline levels of SC, and whether better SC in early childhood leads to better self-efficacy in adolescence. This study leverages a sample of predominately low-/middle-income Black participants (n = 678) who were part of a randomized universal preventive trial in first grade (1993–1995). Teacher-reported SC was measured at baseline. Utilizing a three-step latent transition analysis, transitions between SC classes and academic self-efficacy trajectories were explored. Intervention status was explored as a predictor of the transition. Results suggest that teacher-rated SC in early childhood predicts academic self-efficacy up to 11 years later. Moderation analyses suggest that there are individual differences in prevention program effectiveness by baseline behavioral regulation skills. Implications for school-based universal prevention programming having an impact on low risk children and methods for exploring moderation within a prevention context are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-522
Number of pages10
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Early childhood
  • Self-control
  • Self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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