The Association between Early Care and Education and Midlife Outcomes: The Abecedarian 5th Decade Follow-up
Sonnier-Netto, Mary Elizabeth
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation focuses on the midlife adjustment of individuals from a longitudinal study in its 5th decade of follow-up. The Abecedarian Project, a prospective randomized control trial (RCT), began in 1972 with the primary goal of preventing cognitive impairments and school failure in children born into impoverished families with multiple risk factors by randomly assigning 111 infants to either an early education (n = 57) or control group (n = 54). This dissertation reports midlife outcomes at ages 39 – 45 for 42 individuals who received the early education treatment and 36 who were controls. This dissertation focuses on two primary hypotheses within a twojournal manuscript format. The first primary hypothesis of this dissertation is that the Abecedarian early education intervention will increase the number of successful outcomes over the lifespan, showing the cumulative effect of positive experiences (Sameroff, 2009) and a sense of personal efficacy (Dweck, 2008; Seeman, 1959). The second primary hypothesis of this dissertation is that response contingent learning and being an active agent in early cognitive and social settings during the first five years of life will provide a strong foundation for future perceptions of control over important areas in one’s life (Furnham & Steele, 1993; Walden & Ramey, 1983; Wallston, Wallston, & DeVellis, 1978). The analysis of midlife indices of strength and risk reveal results favoring the treatment group compared to the controls on both the Midlife Strengths Index (F (1,76) = 15.85, p = .000) and the Midlife Risk Index (F (1,76 = 8.88, p = .004). Additionally, a significant interaction exists between group assignment and IQ at age 48 months for the Midlife Strengths Index (β = -.215, p < .05). Analyses of Locus of Control scales reveal that the control group reports “powerful others” have more influence on both their health behaviors (F (1, 76) = 3.962, p = .05) on the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control Scale and their economic behaviors (F (1, 76) = 5.146, p = .026) within the Economic Locus of Control Scale. Additionally, the control group reported more external economic locus of control than the treatment group with a marginal statistical significance (F (1, 76) = 3.359, p = .071). Results are consistent with the conclusion for children born into multi-risk, economically impoverished families there are lifelong benefits of receiving high-quality early care and education that extend into the midlife years.
- Doctoral Dissertations