Intentional self regulation in middle adolescence: The emerging role of loss-based selection in positive youth development

Steinunn Gestsdottir, Edmond Bowers, Alexander von Eye, Christopher M. Napolitano, Richard M. Lerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intentional self regulation describes how people make choices, plan actions to reach their goals, and regulate the execution of their actions, making processes of intentional self regulation central to healthy human functioning. Prior research has confirmed the presence of three processes of intentional self regulation-elective selection (ES), optimization (O), and compensation (C)-in middle adolescence (Grades 8 through 10) and concurrent and predictive relationships with measures of Positive Youth Development (PYD). A fourth process, loss-based selection (LBS), should also develop by the end of middle adolescence. The present study used data from the 4-H Study of PYD to confirm the presence of a four-scale structure of intentional self regulation (ES, O, C, and LBS) in a sample of 2,357 racially diverse Grade 10 youth (63% female) and examine its covariation with indicators of positive and problematic development. Results supported the identification of a four-part structure of intentional self regulation, and scores covaried positively with indicators of PYD and negatively with substance use, delinquency, and depressive symptoms. Implications of the findings for the understanding of self-regulatory actions in adolescence and for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-782
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Compensation
  • Intentional self regulation
  • Loss-based selection
  • Optimization
  • Positive Youth Development
  • Selection
  • Structural equation modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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