Toward a Unifying Model of Self-regulation: A Developmental Approach

Pamela M. Cole, Nilam Ram, Mary Samantha English

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The ability to self-regulate is key to healthy, competent functioning. The breadth of evidence supporting the importance of self-regulation is matched by such a diversity of terms, concepts, measures, and levels of analysis that the National Institutes of Health called for progress toward a unifying model. In this article, we review a lineage of conceptual models and suggest a path toward a more unifying model of self-regulation that encompasses both the dynamics of moment-to-moment changes and age-related change. Drawing from these models, we define self-regulation as the influence of the recruitment of executive processes (EP) on prepotent responses (PR). We define these terms, locating self-regulation in the dynamic relations between PR and EP, and offer a theoretical–mathematical approach to testing this model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-96
Number of pages6
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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