Effortful Control and Internalizing Emotional-Behavioral Disorders in Children: A Simultaneous Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Document Type : Scientific-research


1 Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Education of Children with Special Needs, Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology, Isfahan University, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of Psychology and Education of People with Special Needs,-Faculty of Education and Psychology- University of Isfahan- Isfahan- Iran



Aim: The present study conducts a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of research related to the association between internalizing emotional-behavioral disorders, one of the most prevalent childhood and adolescence disorders, and effortful control, as the ability to regulate behavior, emotions, and cognition. Methods: Relevant studies from 2003 to 2023 were meticulously searched and screened using reputable scientific databases and keywords. Eight high-quality studies were selected based on the PRISMA statement. Data analysis was performed using the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (CMA) software version 3. Effect sizes from the studies included 12 effect sizes, and the random-effects model was applied to account for potential heterogeneity among the studies. Results: The synthesis revealed a significant negative association between internalizing emotional-behavioral disorders and effortful control. The combined effect size, calculated at a significance level of 0.001, was 0.42 which according to Cohen's interpretation criterion, indicates a moderate-to-large effect of effortful control on internalizing disorders. Reduced effortful control is linked to a higher likelihood of experiencing internalizing disorders among children and adolescents. The meta-analysis demonstrated high statistical credibility and no evidence of publication bias, reinforcing the reliability of the results. Conclusion: Effortful control plays a crucial role in preventing and treating childhood emotional-behavioral disorders. The robustness of the results was supported by the inclusion of studies with diverse age samples from around the world. Future research should focus on evidence-based interventions that strengthen effortful control, leading to reduced emotional-behavioral disorders.


Main Subjects

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