Behavioral self-regulation: Correlates and 2 year follow-ups for boys at risk for substance abuse

Michael A. Dawes, Ralph E. Tarter, Levent Kirisci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


This investigation demonstrated the heuristic construct of behavioral self-regulation (BSR) as a salient component of the liability to substance abuse. Three dimensions of childhood behaviour were employed to create a dimensional model of BSR: inattention, impulsivity/hyperactivity and aggressivity. Multiple measures and multiple informants were employed to develop indices of the three traits in a sample of 10-12 year old sons of substance abusing fathers (high risk (HR); n = 180) and normal controls (low average risk (LAR); n = 200). Informants included mothers, boys and their teachers. The results confirmed the presence of a first-order latent trait of BSR. HR boys had significantly higher scores on BSR than LAR boys. Concurrent validity of the BSR trait scores was supported by significant associations with measures of family dysfunction, deviant peer affiliations and poor school performance. These latter problems are commonly prodromal to substance abuse. Predictive validity of the BSR trait baseline scores (age 10-12 years) was supported at 2 year follow-up by significant associations of BSR scores with magnitude of deviant peer affiliations; trends toward significance were found for family dysfunction and poor school performance. Taken together, these results confirm and extend previous findings which indicate that poor BSR is prodromal to substance abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2 1997


  • Behavioral self-regulation
  • Child development
  • Drug abuse
  • Etiology
  • Liability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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