Robust longitudinal multi-cohort results: The development of self-control during adolescence

M. A.J. Zondervan-Zwijnenburg*, J. S. Richards, S. T. Kevenaar, A. I. Becht, H. J.A. Hoijtink, A. J. Oldehinkel, S. Branje, W. Meeus, D. I. Boomsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Longitudinal data from multiple cohorts may be analyzed by Bayesian research synthesis. Here, we illustrate this approach by investigating the development of self-control between age 13 and 19 and the role of sex therein in a multi-cohort, longitudinal design. Three Dutch cohorts supplied data: the Netherlands Twin Register (NTR; N = 21,079), Research on Adolescent Development and Relationships-Young (RADAR-Y; N = 497), and Tracking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS; N = 2229). Self-control was assessed by one measure in NTR and RADAR-Y, and three measures in TRAILS. In each cohort, we evaluated evidence for competing informative hypotheses regarding the development of self-control. Subsequently, we aggregated this evidence over cohorts and measures to arrive at a robust conclusion that was supported by all cohorts and measures. We found robust evidence for the hypothesis that on average self-control increases during adolescence (i.e., maturation) and that individuals with lower initial self-control often experience a steeper increase in self-control (i.e., a pattern of recovery). From self-report, boys have higher initial self-control levels at age 13 than girls, whereas parents report higher self-control for girls.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100817
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Early online date4 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Informative hypotheses
  • Longitudinal analysis
  • Research synthesis
  • Self-control
  • Sex differences

Cohort Studies

  • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)


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