Current Gaps and Future Directions for Self-Regulation Intervention Research

Publication Date: January 5, 2018

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Research shows the value of interventions to strengthen self-regulation, yet there are many unanswered questions.


This brief addresses key gaps in interventions and intervention research identified in the process of developing a series of reports and briefs based in existing theory and research on toxic stress, self-regulation, and self-regulation interventions in a recent literature review. The brief highlights work needed in intervention design and development to enhance programs intended to strengthen self-regulation. This brief will be of greatest interest to prevention scientists, funders, and policy-makers.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Self-regulation interventions promote well-being across development through a variety of approaches and different types of programs.
  • In order for self-regulation interventions to achieve their potential for enhancing the effects of human service programs and practices, a number of gaps need to be addressed. This includes gaps in the kinds of interventions developed and gaps in what is known about how interventions work, for whom, and for what outcomes.
  • There are several unanswered questions such as what the critical components of different interventions may be, when the best time to intervene is, and whether layering or combining interventions has added value.
  • Existing interventions are lacking in a few important areas, including the use of co-regulation strategies and interventions for adolescents and young adults.
  • The quality of future self-regulation research could be improved by focusing on sample representativeness for the most vulnerable populations, developing and testing specific strategies informed by theory, and considering broader intervention approaches across settings and development.
  • Considerable work is needed to develop and validate relevant self-regulation measures that will strengthen confidence in interpreting results.


Murray, D.W. & Rosanbalm, K. (2017). Current Gaps and Future Directions for Self-Regulation Intervention Research: A Research Brief. OPRE Report # 2017-93. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


The act of managing thoughts and feelings to enable goal-directed actions.
The supportive process between caring adults and children, youth, or young adults that fosters self-regulation development.
Current as of: