The Relationship between Family Violence and Self-Control in Adolescence: A Multi-Level Meta-Analysis

Yayouk E. Willems, Jian Bin Li, Anne M. Hendriks, Meike Bartels, Catrin Finkenauer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Theoretical studies propose an association between family violence and low self-control in adolescence; however, empirical findings of this association are inconclusive. The aim of the present research was to systematically summarize available findings on the relation between family violence and self-control across adolescence. We included 28 studies with 143 effect sizes, representing more than 25,000 participants of eight countries from early to late adolescence. Applying a three-level meta-analysis, taking dependency between effect sizes into account while retaining statistical power, we examined the magnitude and direction of the overall effect size. Additionally, we investigated whether theoretical moderators (e.g., age, gender, country), and methodological moderators (e.g., time lag between family violence and self-control, informant) influenced the magnitude of the association between family violence and self-control. Our results revealed that family violence and self-control have a small to moderate significant negative association (r = -0.191). This association did not vary across gender, country, and informants. The strength of the association, however, decreased with age and in longitudinal studies. This finding provides evidence that researchers and clinicians may expect low self-control in the wake of family violence, especially in early adolescence. Recommendations for future research in the area are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2468
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2018


FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme771057
Seventh Framework Programme602768


    • adolescence
    • family violence
    • meta-analysis
    • self-control


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