Self-Control and Affect Regulation Styles Predict Anxiety Longitudinally in University Students

Affiliated institutions: Duke University

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Description: The performance and well-being of university students is influenced by many factors, including self-control and affect regulation, but little is known about how these factors influence one another. To better understand how these factors interact to impact student well-being, we analyzed data from a multi-site research project that assessed self-control, affect regulation, and anxiety in a longitudinal cohort design (N = 1360) using Structural Equation Modeling. We specifically tested hypotheses that self-control, assessed upon entering school, would predict anxiety outcomes from students’ third year, and affect regulation styles (adaptive or maladaptive) would mediate this relationship. We found that greater self-control did predict lower third-year anxiety, even after accounting for anxiety levels upon entering school. This relationship was partially mediated by maladaptive affect regulation; students with greater self-control endorsed less use of maladaptive coping strategies (e.g., denial, self-blame), which predicted less subsequent anxiety. These findings highlight trait self-control as an important predictor of affective well-being, and they identify maladaptive affect regulation as a target for interventions to promote student well-being and success.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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This project contains the submitted manuscript draft, main and supplemental analysis scripts, deidentified and aggregated data (compliant with the research project team's policy on sharing data). Instructions for reproducing our reported results: Researchers interested in reproducing our analyses in R should do the following (note that reliability analyses cannot be reproduced with the shared data...

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