Considering context in the developmental psychobiology of self-regulation. Academic Article uri icon


  • The developmental psychobiology of self-regulation in childhood has received increasing attention in recent years. As a next step in advancing research and theorizing about the processes by which early biological correlates of self-regulation are forged, a more nuanced consideration of the contexts in which these phenomena are embedded is needed. This review synthesizes insights from distinct but complementary approaches to studying the developmental psychobiology of early self-regulation, focusing on the idea of context at different time scales. Three types of context that differ in temporal resolution are considered: (a) The temporally immediate contexts occurring within a structured challenge, including the baseline-to-task context of reactive psychobiology, the within-task context of dynamic change, and the post-task context of recovery from challenge. (b) The temporally moderate contexts of task type, including variants like the specific emotion that is under study and whether the task involves (or allows for) self-regulatory behaviors. (c) The temporally chronic contexts of important social relationships within which children are embedded and developing. Future research efforts that incorporate a more nuanced appreciation for the temporal resolution of contexts in developmental psychobiology will allow for novel tests and refinement of theories of self-regulation, as well as other domains of child development.

published proceedings

  • Dev Psychobiol

altmetric score

  • 6.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Davis, E. L., Brooker, R. J., & Kahle, S.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Davis, Elizabeth L||Brooker, Rebecca J||Kahle, Sarah

publication date

  • January 2020