Academic journal article Journal of Behavioural Sciences

Dimensionality of the Temperament in Spanish Children: Negative Affectivity, Effortful Control, and Extraversion

Academic journal article Journal of Behavioural Sciences

Dimensionality of the Temperament in Spanish Children: Negative Affectivity, Effortful Control, and Extraversion

Article excerpt

Research on children's temperament has clearly demonstrated the relevance of temperament to the adjustment of children in the areas of social competence (Dixon & Smith, 2000), motivation and performance (Shiner, 2000), empathy (Eisenberg, Spinrad, & Sadovsky, 2006), and psychopathology (Watson, Kotov, & Gamez, 2006) among others. Thus, it is important to have available validating measures that clearly demarcate the essential components of temperament and allow for valid and reliable inferences.

Historically, researchers have proposed various models regarding the structure of temperament in children (Martin, Winsenbaker, & Huttunen, 1994; Rothbart, 2011; Rothbart & Mauro, 1990). Among these models, three fundamental approaches stand out. The first model is a proposal by Thomas and Chess, who, in the New York Longitudinal Study (NYL; Thomas & Chess, 1977), identified nine dimensions of temperament based on their interviews with mothers of children aged 2 to 6 months. The nine dimensions are activity level, mood, approach/withdrawal, intensity, sensory threshold, rhythmicity, distractibility, attention/persistence, and adaptability. The second is by Buss and Plomin (1975, 1984), who proposed three basic characteristics of temperament: emotionality, activity, and sociability (EAS). These characteristics are observed at the beginning of life and can be attributed to heredity. The third is a proposal presented by Rothbart and colleagues (Capaldi & Rothbart, 1992; Derryberry & Rothbart, 1997; Rothbart, et al., 2001) based on Fiske's three constructs of temperament (1966, 1971): emotional reactivity, arousability, and self-regulation. To our knowledge, there has not been validation in the Spanish culture for these structures of temperament. Therefore, there are not conclusive remarks about the suitability of these models in the Spanish culture. The CBQ measures the temperament of children aged 3 to 7 years. The instrument is completed by the children's parents or regular caregivers. The supporting scales that constitute the CBQ were based on Fiske's theoretical constructs mentioned above.

In their notion of temperament, Rothbart and colleagues diverged from previous theoretical proposals by considering individual differences in self-regulation and the role of executive control (Posner & Rothbart, 1998; Rothbart, 1981, 1989; Rothbart, Ahadi, & Evans, 2000; Ruff & Rothbart, 1996). Previous studies analyzing the structure of the CBQ in America (Ahadi, Rothbart, & Ye, 1993; DeThome, Deater-Deckard, Mahurin-Smith, Coletto, & Petrill, 2011; Goldsmith, Buss, & Lemery, 1997; Kochanska, De Vet, Goldman, & Murray, 1994; Putman & Rothbart, 2006; Rothbart et al., 2001), Chinese (Ahadi et al., 1993), Japan (Kusanagi, 1993) and Netherlands (Sleddens, Kremer, De Vries, & Thijs, 2013) populations have revealed three first-order categories among the basic, theoretically established dimensions: surgency/extraversion, negative affectivity, and effortful control.

The first factor, surgency, includes the scales for positive anticipation, laughter/smiling, impulsivity, high-intensity pleasure (search for sensation), and activity level with a negative rating for shyness. Surgency refers to the tendency to direct behavior toward potential rewards, to express positive emotions, and to show a high level of activity. This construct is very similar to and positively associated with the factor of extraversión in personality trait theories (Evans & Rothbart, 2007). The second factor, negative affectivity, resembles the personality trait of neuroticism (Rothbart, 2007) and refers to the predisposition to respond with negative emotions (fear, anger or frustration, discomfort, sadness) combined with a difficulty with selfsoothing. Finally, the third factor, effortful control, involves inhibitoiy control (the ability to inhibit an inappropriate behavior), attentional focusing, low-intensity pleasure (the ability to derive pleasure from lowintensity stimuli), and perceptual sensitivity. …

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