The Association Between Inhibitory Control and Dating Violence Outcomes Among Adolescents

Vanessa J Nicholson, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Executive function (EF) is commonly known as a set of cognitive skills which aid in thought processing and decision-making. Though an association between overall (EF) and risky behavior is speculated, this dissertation includes two of the first studies to assess the association between inhibitory control- one component of EF - and psychological teen dating violence (TDV) perpetration. In the first paper, we conducted a narrative review of prior studies that examined the association between EF and multiple adolescent risky behaviors among neurotypical developing teen populations. Study results from Paper 1 reveal that there is strong evidence for the association between “hot” (i.e. .inhibitory control, impulsivity processing speed and emotional control) components of EF (Zelazo, Carlson, 2012; Chan, Shum, Toulopoulou, Chen, 2008) and risky behavior. There is less evidence, however, that supports the association between “cold” EF (i.e. planning, working memory, attention verbal fluency and cognitive flexibility) components and risky behavior (Zimmerman, Ownsworth, Donovan, et al, 2016). Findings from Paper 1 show that associations are dependent on how EF is assessed and identified. Thus, future studies should continue to examine the association between risky behavior and overall EF to fill these gaps. In the second paper, we conducted a cross-sectional analysis assessing the association between psychological TDV perpetration and inhibitory control. Study participants were members of the control group as part of a large randomized study of an effective teen pregnancy prevention program, It’s Your Game…Keep it Real (Tortolero, Markham, Peskin, Shegog, Addy, 2010; Peskin, Coyle, Anderson, et al. 2017). Study results revealed that male and female youth who had poorer EF were more likely to be perpetrators of psychological TDV after controlling for multiple covariates. Results from Paper 2 suggest the need for psychological TDV interventions to assist teens with emotional and self-control management as many are already involved in dating relationships.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Nicholson, Vanessa J, "The Association Between Inhibitory Control and Dating Violence Outcomes Among Adolescents" (2017). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10619519.