Early Growth in Social Competence and Treatment Responsivity to the Fast Track Intervention

Open Access
Kalvin, Carla Beth
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
August 17, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Karen Linn Bierman, Dissertation Advisor
  • Karen Linn Bierman, Committee Chair
  • Ginger A Moore, Committee Member
  • Scott David Gest, Committee Member
  • Mark T Greenberg, Outside Member
  • social competence
  • social-emotional learning
  • prevention
  • crime
  • conduct problems
  • treatment responsivity
Social-emotional learning (SEL) interventions targeting the prevention of antisocial behavior are based on theoretical frameworks underscoring the key role of social-emotional competencies in promoting adjustment and protecting youth against trajectories of antisocial behavior. However, little research has directly tested this theoretical model by investigating whether the promotion of social competence functions as a mechanism by which SEL interventions reduce antisocial behavior. The present study explored this issue in the context of the Fast Track prevention program, a 10-year SEL program aimed at the prevention of childhood conduct problems. This study explored the extent to which the promotion of early elementary social competence accounted for the positive long-term effects of Fast Track on the reduction of early adult criminal behavior. Participants included 766 children enrolled in Fast Track (50% African-American, 47% European American, 3% other racial/ethnic groups; 69% male) in the intervention (n = 389) and control conditions (n = 377). Beginning in first grade, children in the intervention condition received universal and indicated intervention components aimed at promoting social-emotional competencies and academic development. Social competence was assessed via teacher ratings in kindergarten through third grade, and criminal behavior was assessed via court records at age 20. Results revealed a significant effect of intervention on individual growth in social competence that partially mediated the effect of intervention on early adult crime and that was also moderated by baseline characteristics. Further analyses indicated that individual growth in social competence predicted crime outcome with moderate accuracy. These findings are the first to validate the role of individual social competence growth in the effect of SEL-based antisocial behavior prevention, with implications for intervention implementation including early identification of individual treatment responsivity.