Communicating Scientific Findings About Adolescence and Self-Regulation: Challenges and Opportunities

Publication Date: April 1, 2016


This brief reviews and synthesizes research in order to present the challenges — and potential solutions — surrounding scientific communication about self-regulation during adolescence, with a particular focus on the role of interventions in strengthening self-regulation capacities.

The challenges associated with communicating about these topics are substantial, and the report concludes with recommendations for communicators, such as:

  • Use values at the top of their communications to orient people to why these issues matter.
  • Explain why self-regulation is important & how it develops, using tools like the explanatory metaphor of Brain Architecture.
  • Emphasize the role of environment & context when talking about the factors that predict the acquisition & enactment of self-regulation.
  • Provide causal explanations that show how early adversity can disrupt the development of self-regulation.
  • Cast interventions & programs as narratives that focus on contexts, systems, & populations.
  • Avoid “myth/fact” constructions, as they will only serve to reinforce existing misunderstandings through repetition of the misunderstanding.
  • Avoid reinforcing negative perceptions of adolescents.
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