Prevention Science

, Volume 17, Issue 7, pp 794–805 | Cite as

Generative Mechanisms in Early Childhood Interventions: A Confirmatory Research Framework for Prevention

  • Arthur J. Reynolds
  • Suh-Ruu Ou


This article reviews methodological and analytic approaches and impact evidence for understanding the mechanisms of effects of early childhood interventions, including delinquency and violence prevention. Illustrations from longitudinal studies of preschool preventive interventions are provided. We restrict our attention to preventive interventions for children from birth to age 5, including evidence from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS), which investigates the impact of an established school-based early childhood intervention. Frameworks and evidence will be organized according to the Five-Hypothesis Model (5HM), which postulates that a variety of early childhood interventions impact later well-being through the promotion of cognitive and scholastic advantages, motivational advantages, social adjustment, family support behaviors, and school supports. Recommendations are made for advancing confirmatory approaches for identifying the most effective prevention programs using identification of generative mechanisms as a major methodological criterion.


Generative mechanisms Longitudinal studies Early childhood Preventive interventions Health and well-being 



The authors are at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, 51 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (electronic address: and Preparation of this article was supported by Grant R01 HD034294 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11121_2015_611_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Child DevelopmentUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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