“I hope that my research/study will increase understanding in schools, on all levels, of the importance of students’ self-control, and thus contribute to the well being of children and adolescents,” says Steinunn Gestsdóttir, Associate Professor in Social Education. She has been working on a long-term study with her co-workers at the School of Education; Professor Hrafnhildur Ragnarsdóttir and Freyja Birgisdóttir, Assistant Professor, on self-control, development of speech and literacy in children aged four to eight. Furthermore, Gestsdóttir recently launched a study on self-control in Icelandic teenagers.
“The core of my studies is how young people control, change or hold back their feelings, thoughts and behaviour. I find it extremely important to launch the study on self-control in Icelandic adolescents as self-control carries special weight during adolescence; a period that proves difficult to many.”
Gestsdóttir says that already in her doctoral studies at Tufts University in the United States she was interested in looking at psychological process connected with the development of maturity during adolescence, such as confidence and success in school and low participation in risk behaviour.
“Self-control is interesting because this skill enables people to shape their own development. When I moved to Iceland after my PhD studies I discovered that self-control had not been studied here, which was a surprise as it is a growing field of study abroad.” Therefore she started her research on the matter.
The study, a collaboration between Gestsdóttir, Ragnarsdóttir and Birgisdóttir, connects three key areas in development; self-control, speech development and literacy; the foundation for a successful school career. Acquisition of the final data was recently completed and processing has begun.
“The first results indicate that childrens’ self-control at the end of pre-school predicts their progress of study in elementary school,” says Gestsdóttir.