Individuals rely on emotional self-regulation to control behaviors on a daily basis. “For instance, we need to inhibit spontaneous responses in favor of less immediate ones from which we benefit more, or we need to stay calm even though our temper is aroused,” said Holger Busch of the University of Osnabruck, lead author of a dual study examining the effects of self-regulation on identity and intimacy development during adolescence. “In a first study, we tested whether, in young adulthood, intimacy is fostered by attentional control and, in turn, itself benefits well-being as well as self-esteem. In a second study, we used a longitudinal design to test whether generativity mediates the association between action control and purpose in life.”
People who exhibit high levels of self-regulation have fewer experiences of negative psychological states and form stronger identities. “Adolescents with high self-regulatory capacities had an increased probability of developing an achieved identity, which in turn is associated with well-being,” said Busch of previous data collected from similar research on the subject. Additionally, teens who displayed a stronger sense of well-being and identity appeared to develop intimate relationships easier than those with lower self-esteem.
For their studies, Busch and colleagues evaluated 177 German students two times over 18 months. The participants were assessed for intimacy, generativity, well-being and self-regulation. The team also measured action control and the overall effect of these emotions and behaviors on life purpose. The researchers found that self-regulation was directly related to positive identity formation. They said, “Specifically, the main developmental task in adolescence, identity formation, is more likely to be successfully resolved when self-regulatory capacities are high. Likewise, the central crises of young and middle adulthood, intimacy and generativity, respectively, benefit from high self-regulatory capacities.” They added, “Results demonstrate that self-regulation is an important resource for the successful resolution of developmental crises across the life span from at least adolescence on.”
Busch, H., & Hofer, J. (2011, September 19). Self-Regulation and Milestones of Adult Development: Intimacy and Generativity. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025521
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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