Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Kathy L. Schuh

Second Advisor

Johnmarshall Reeve


The purpose of the present study was to examine the relations among Taiwanese elementary school children's effortful control, social relationships and their adjustment at school. Data were gathered on 407 third- to sixth-grade children (81 third graders, 79 fourth graders, 116 fifth graders, and 131 sixth graders) attending three low- to middle-class public elementary schools in Taipei County, Taiwan. Participating children as well as their parents, teachers, and peers provided questionnaire and peer sociometric data. Two main research questions were addressed: a) whether there were direct relations among children's effortful control, social relationships, and adjustment at school; b) whether social relationships mediate the relations between children's effortful control and their adjustment at school. Additionally, two alternative models were tested to evaluate the likelihood of other conceptual considerations.

Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the data and examine the direct and meditational relations among the study constructs. As expectation, findings of this study provided illuminating evidence for the direct effects of effortful control on children's adjustment at school. Moreover, the role of teacher-child relationships as a mediator in the pathways from effortful control to children's adjustment at school (i.e., social behavior, school attitudes, and academic adjustment) was strongly supported. Consistent with the hypotheses, the meditational effects of peer relationships were also clearly supported in the pathways from effortful control to social behavior as well as school attitudes. However, inconsistent with the hypothesis, there is no evidence of mediating effect of peer relationships by which effortful control contribute to academic adjustment. Finally, to compare with the alternative models, the hypothesized model was ranked as the best fit model to the given data.

In general, the current study suggested that children's self-regulatory capabilities (i.e., effortful control) influence their adjustment at school both directly and indirectly through their relationships with teachers and peers. It contributes to the literature of children's school adjustment by examining the effects of both dispositional self-regulation and social relationships. It is also one of the first studies to examine how teacher-child relationships and peer relationships are linked to multiple aspects of children's adjustment at school. For practical implications, it is critical to provide parents, caregivers, and teachers with specific strategies and techniques to support the development of effortful control. The findings of the study also call for a need to develop preventive interventions or training programs focusing on the development of positive classroom relationships.


effortful control, emotion-related regulation, peer relationships, school adjustment, structural equation modeling, teacher-child relationships


2, xi, 167 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 114-126).


Copyright 2010 Chin-Fang Huang