Generative Mechanisms in Early Childhood Interventions: A Confirmatory Research Framework for Prevention

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This article reviews methodological and analytic approaches and impact evidence for understanding the mechanisms of effects of early childhood interventions, including delinquency and violence prevention. Illustrations from longitudinal studies of preschool preventive interventions are provided. We restrict our attention to preventive interventions for children from birth to age 5, including evidence from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS), which investigates the impact of an established school-based early childhood intervention. Frameworks and evidence will be organized according to the Five-Hypothesis Model (5HM), which postulates that a variety of early childhood interventions impact later well-being through the promotion of cognitive and scholastic advantages, motivational advantages, social adjustment, family support behaviors, and school supports. Recommendations are made for advancing confirmatory approaches for identifying the most effective prevention programs using identification of generative mechanisms as a major methodological criterion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)794-805
Number of pages12
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Society for Prevention Research.


  • Early childhood
  • Generative mechanisms
  • Health and well-being
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Preventive interventions


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