Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 793–806 | Cite as

Growth in Adolescent Self-Regulation and Impact on Sexual Risk-Taking: A Curve-of-Factors Analysis

  • AliceAnn Crandall
  • Brianna M. Magnusson
  • M. Lelinneth B. Novilla
Empirical Research


Adolescent self-regulation is increasingly seen as an important predictor of sexual risk-taking behaviors, but little is understood about how changes in self-regulation affect later sexual risk-taking. Family financial stress may affect the development of self-regulation and later engagement in sexual risk-taking. We examined whether family financial stress influences self-regulation in early adolescence (age 13) and growth in self-regulation throughout adolescence (from age 13–17 years). We then assessed the effects of family financial stress, baseline self-regulation, and the development of self-regulation on adolescent sexual risk-taking behaviors at age 18 years. Using a curve-of-factors model, we examined these relationships in a 6-year longitudinal study of 470 adolescents (52% female) and their parents from a large northwestern city in the United States. Results indicated that family financial stress was negatively associated with baseline self-regulation but not with growth in self-regulation throughout adolescence. Both baseline self-regulation and growth in self-regulation were predictive of decreased likelihood of engaging in sexual risk-taking. Family financial stress was not predictive of later sexual risk-taking. Intervening to support the development of self-regulation in adolescence may be especially protective against later sexual risk-taking.


Self-regulation Sexual risk-taking Family stress Growth curve analysis Structural equation modeling 



We thank the College of Family, Home, and Social Science, and the many donors and supporters of the Family Studies Center at Brigham Young University who provided generous financial assistance for the Flourishing Families Project for many years. We also thank Jeremy B. Yorgason for his suggestions and careful review of our curve-of-factors Mplus code.

Author Contributions

A.C. conceived of the study and the analytical design, performed statistical analyses and interpretation, and drafted the manuscript. B.M.M. and M.L.B.N. helped with the conceptualization and design of the study and interpretation of results. All authors helped draft the manuscript and read and approved the final manuscript.


The Flourishing Families Project was funded by Brigham Young University (U.S.) College of Family, Home, and Social Science (Principal Investigator: Randal D. Day).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

The Brigham Young University Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved the Flourishing Families Project. The Flourishing Families Project involved human participants who provided informed consent in accordance with the procedures established with the institutional ethics committee. This current study was a secondary data analysis using the Flourishing Families Project data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health ScienceBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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