Integrating and Differentiating Aspects of Self-Regulation: Effortful Control, Executive Functioning, and Links to Negative Affectivity
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Sub-disciplines within psychology frequently examine self-regulation from different frameworks despite conceptually similar definitions of constructs. In the current study, similarities and differences between effortful control, based on the psychobiological model of temperament (Rothbart, Derryberry, & Posner, 1994), and executive functioning are examined and empirically tested in three studies (N = 509). Structural equation modeling indicated that effortful control and executive functioning are strongly associated and overlapping constructs (Study 1). Additionally, results indicated that effortful control is related to the executive function of updating/monitoring information in working memory, but not inhibition (Studies 2 and 3). Study 3 also demonstrates that better updating/monitoring information in working memory and better effortful control were uniquely linked to lower dispositional negative affect, whereas the executive function of low/poor inhibition was uniquely associated with an increased tendency to express negative affect. Furthermore, dispositional negative affect mediated the links between effortful control and, separately, the executive function of updating/monitoring information in working memory and the tendency to express negative affect. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed, and a potential framework for guiding future work directed at integrating and differentiating aspects of self-regulation is suggested.