Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Experimental Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

Mervis, Carolyn B.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Cashon, Cara H.

Committee Member

Cashon, Cara H.

Committee Member

Davis, Deborah W.

Committee Member

Pani, John R.

Committee Member

Rosen, Paul J.

Author's Keywords

inhibitory control; emotion regulation; executive function; effortful control; adaptive function; intellectual disability


My dissertation included two manuscripts which broadly focused on the self-regulation abilities of young school-aged children with Williams syndrome (WS), a rare neurodevelopmental disorder. Children with WS often exhibit mild to moderate intellectual disability (Kozel et al., 2021), impairments in behavioral and emotional regulation (Greiner de Magalhães et al., 2022), low effortful control (Leyfer et al., 2012), and deficits in adaptive skills (Brawn & Porter, 2018). In the first manuscript, the performance of children with WS on a gift-wrap delay of gratification task was characterized. In the second manuscript, the concurrent effects of the ability to regulate emotions, the ability to regulate behaviors, and overall intellectual ability on adaptive skills were explored. Overall, results demonstrated that young school-aged children with WS have difficulty with both the emotional and behavioral aspects of self-regulation. At the same time, the ability to regulate emotions and behaviors was characterized by considerable variability. In line with the literature on typically developing children, the ability to inhibit the urge to access an enticing reward as measured by a gift-delay task was related to regulation of emotions and inhibitory control for young school-aged children with WS. Furthermore, lower self-regulatory skills and more limited intellectual ability were each associated with limitations in adaptive functioning. In addition to overall intellectual ability, emotion-related self-regulation contributed a substantial amount of unique variance to individual differences in socialization skills and daily living skills. Results from this dissertation suggest the development and validation of interventions targeting the enhancement of emotion regulation by children with WS and other syndromes associated with intellectual disability is crucial for optimizing the opportunity of these children to reach their full potential.