Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Child temperament and teacher relationship interactively predict cortisol expression: The prism of classroom climate

  • Danielle S. Roubinov (a1), Melissa J. Hagan (a1) (a2), W. Thomas Boyce (a1), Marilyn J. Essex (a3) and Nicole R. Bush (a1)...

Abstract

Entry into kindergarten is a developmental milestone that children may differentially experience as stressful, with implications for variability in neurobiological functioning. Guided by the goodness-of-fit framework, this study tested the hypothesis that kindergarten children's (N = 338) daily cortisol would be affected by the “match” or “mismatch” between children's temperament and qualities of the classroom relational context. The robustness of these associations was also explored among a separate sample of children in third grade (N = 165). Results among kindergarten children showed negative affectivity and overcontrolled temperament were positively related to cortisol expression within classrooms characterized by lower levels of teacher motivational support, but there was no relation between temperament and cortisol when motivational support was higher. Among third-grade children, negative affectivity was marginally positively related to cortisol at lower levels of teacher–child closeness and unrelated at higher levels of teacher–child closeness. Findings suggest children's cortisol expression depends on the extent to which specific temperamental characteristics “fit” within the relational and contextual qualities of the classroom environment, particularly as children navigate the new roles and relationships that emerge during the transition to formal schooling. Developmentally informed neurobiological research in classrooms may contribute to tailored programmatic efforts to support children's school adjustment.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Danielle S. Roubinov, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, 3333 California Avenue, Suite 465, San Francisco, CA 94118; E-mail: danielle.roubinov@ucsf.edu.

Footnotes

Hide All

This study was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grants R01 MH62320 to (W.T.B.) and R01 MH44340 and P50 MH052354 to (M.J.E.), the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Psychopathology and Development (to W.T.B. and M.J.E.), and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (to W.T.B.).

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Abbott, D. H., Keverne, E. B., Bercovitch, F. B., Shively, C. A., Mendoza, S. P., Saltzman, W., … Sapolsky, R. M. (2003). Are subordinates always stressed? A comparative analysis of rank differences in cortisol levels among primates. Hormones and Behavior, 43, 6782.
Adam, E. K., & Kumari, M. (2009). Assessing salivary cortisol in large-scale, epidemiological research. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34, 14231436. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2009.06.011
Aiken, L. S., West, S. G., & Reno, R. R. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Belsky, J., & Pluess, M. (2009). Beyond diathesis stress: Differential susceptibility to environmental influences. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 885. doi:10.1037/a0017376
Berdan, L. E., Keane, S. P., & Calkins, S. D. (2008). Temperament and externalizing behavior: Social preference and perceived acceptance as protective factors. Developmental Psychology, 44, 957968. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.44.4.957
Bijttebier, P., & Roeyers, H. (2009). Temperament and vulnerability to psychopathology: Introduction to the special section. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 305308. doi:10.1007/s10802-009-9308-2
Boyce, W. T., Adams, S., Tschann, J. M., Cohen, F., Wara, D., & Gunnar, M. R. (1995). Adrenocortical and behavioral predictors of immune responses to starting school. Pediatric Research, 38, 10091017. doi:10.1203/00006450-199512000-00030
Boyce, W. T., & Ellis, B. J. (2005). Biological sensitivity to context: I. An evolutionary–developmental theory of the origins and functions of stress reactivity. Development and Psychopathology, 17, 271301. doi:10.1017/S0954579405050145
Breeman, L., Wubbels, T., van Lier, P., Verhulst, F., Van der Ende, J., Maras, A., … Tick, N. (2015). Teacher characteristics, social classroom relationships, and children's social, emotional, and behavioral classroom adjustment in special education. Journal of School Psychology, 53, 87103. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2014.11.005
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977). Toward an experimental ecology of human development. American Psychologist, 32, 513. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.32.7.513
Bush, N. R., & Boyce, W. T. (2016). Differential sensitivity to context: Implications for developmental psychopathology. In Cicchetti, D. (Ed.), Developmental psychopathology (pp. 107137). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Bush, N. R., Obradovic, J., Adler, N., & Boyce, W. T. (2011). Kindergarten stressors and cumulative adrenocortical activation: The “first straws” of allostatic load? Development and Psychopathology, 23, 10891106. doi:10.1017/S0954579411000514
Buss, A. H., & Plomin, R. (1984). Temperament: Early developing personality traits. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Chess, S., & Thomas, A. (1999). Goodness of fit: Clinical applications from infancy through adult life. Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel.
Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences. Hillside, NJ: Erlbaum.
Compas, B. E., Connor-Smith, J., & Jaser, S. S. (2004). Temperament, stress reactivity, and coping: Implications for depression in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33, 2131. doi:10.1207/S15374424jccp3301_3
Cooper, B. R., Moore, J. E., Powers, C., Cleveland, M., & Greenberg, M. T. (2014). Patterns of early reading and social skills associated with academic success in elementary school. Early Education and Development, 25, 12481264. doi:10.1080/10409289.2014.932236
Davis, E. P., Bruce, J., & Gunnar, M. R. (2002). The anterior attention network: Associations with temperament and neuroendocrine activity in 6-year-old children. Developmental Psychobiology, 40, 4356. doi:10.1002/dev.10012
Davis, E. P., Donzella, B., Krueger, W. K., & Gunnar, M. R. (1999). The start of a new school year: Individual differences in salivary cortisol response in relation to child temperament. Developmental Psychobiology, 35, 188196. doi:10.1002/(sici)1098-2302(199911)35:3<188::aid-dev3>3.0.co;2-k
Deakin Crick, R., McCombs, B., Haddon, A., Broadfoot, P., & Tew, M. (2007). The ecology of learning: Factors contributing to learner-centred classroom cultures. Research Papers in Education, 22, 267307. doi:10.1080/02671520701497555
de Kloet, E. R. (2010). From vasotocin to stress and cognition. European Journal of Pharmacology, 626, 1826.
Dettling, A. C., Gunnar, M. R., & Donzella, B. (1999). Cortisol levels of young children in full-day childcare centers: Relations with age and temperament. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 24, 519536. doi:10.1016/S0306-4530(99)00009-8
Dickerson, S. S., & Kemeny, M. E. (2004). Acute stressors and cortisol responses: A theoretical integration and synthesis of laboratory research. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 355. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.3.355
Donzella, B., Gunnar, M. R., Krueger, W. K., & Alwin, J. (2000). Cortisol and vagal tone responses to competitive challenge in preschoolers: Associations with temperament. Developmental Psychobiology, 37, 209220. doi:10.1002/1098-2302(2000)37:4<209::aid-dev1>3.0.co;2-s
Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Shepard, S. A., Murphy, B. C., Guthrie, I. K., Jones, S., … Maszk, P. (1997). Contemporaneous and longitudinal prediction of children's social functioning from regulation and emotionality. Child Development, 68, 642664. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.1997.tb04227.x
Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., Fabes, R. A., Reiser, M., Cumberland, A., Shepard, S. A., … Thompson, M. (2004). The relations of effortful control and impulsivity to children's resiliency and adjustment. Child Development, 75, 2546. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00652.x
Eisenberg, N., Valiente, C., Spinrad, T. L., Cumberland, A., Liew, J., Reiser, M., … Losoya, S. H. (2009). Longitudinal relations of children's effortful control, impulsivity, and negative emotionality to their externalizing, internalizing, and co-occurring behavior problems. Developmental Psychology, 45, 9881008. doi:10.1037/a0016213
Ellis, B. J., Boyce, W. T., Belsky, J., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & van IJzendoorn, M. H. (2011). Differential susceptibility to the environment: An evolutionary–neurodevelopmental theory. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 728. doi:10.1017/S0954579410000611
Essex, M. J., Armstrong, J. M., Burk, L. R., Goldsmith, H. H., & Boyce, W. T. (2011). Biological sensitivity to context moderates the effects of the early teacher–child relationship on the development of mental health by adolescence. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 149161. doi:10.1017/S0954579410000702
Essex, M. J., Shirtcliff, E. A., Burk, L. R., Ruttle, P. L., Klein, M. H., Slattery, M. J., … Armstrong, J. M. (2011). Influence of early life stress on later hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis functioning and its covariation with mental health symptoms: A study of the allostatic process from childhood into adolescence. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 10391058. doi:10.1017/S0954579411000484
Ferreira, T., Cadima, J., Matias, M., Vieira, J. M., Leal, T., & Matos, P. M. (2016). Preschool children's prosocial behavior: The role of mother–child, father–child and teacher–child relationships. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25, 18291839. doi:10.1007/s10826-016-0369-x
Gilliom, M., & Shaw, D. S. (2004). Codevelopment of externalizing and internalizing problems in early childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 313333. doi:10.1017/S0954579404044530
Griggs, M. S., Gagnon, S. G., Huelsman, T. J., Kidder-Ashley, P., & Ballard, M. (2009). Student-teacher relationships matter: Moderating influences between temperament and preschool social competence. Psychology in the Schools, 46, 553567. doi:10.1002/pits.20397
Gunnar, M. R. (2001). The role of glucocorticoids in anxiety disorders: A critical analysis. In Vassey, M. W. & Dadds, M. (Eds.), The developmental psychopathology of anxiety (pp. 143159). New York: Oxford University Press.
Gunnar, M. R., & Donzella, B. (2002). Social regulation of the cortisol levels in early human development. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 27, 199220. doi:10.1016/S0306-4530(01)00045-2
Gunnar, M. R., Sebanc, A. M., Tout, K., Donzella, B., & van Dulmen, M. M. (2003). Peer rejection, temperament, and cortisol activity in preschoolers. Developmental Psychobiology, 43, 346368. doi:10.1002/dev.10144
Gunnar, M. R., & Vazquez, D. (2006). Stress neurobiology and developmental psychopathology. In Cicchetti, D. & Cohen, D. J. (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology (pp. 533577). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Hamre, B. K., & Pianta, R. C. (2001). Early teacher–child relationships and the trajectory of children's school outcomes through eighth grade. Child Development, 72, 625638. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00301
Hastings, P. D., Ruttle, P. L., Serbin, L. A., Mills, R. S., Stack, D. M., & Schwartzman, A. E. (2011). Adrenocortical responses to strangers in preschoolers: Relations with parenting, temperament, and psychopathology. Developmental Psychobiology, 53, 694710. doi:10.1002/dev.20545
Hernández, M. M., Eisenberg, N., Valiente, C., VanSchyndel, S. K., Spinrad, T. L., Silva, K. M., … Thompson, M. S. (2016). Emotional expression in school context, social relationships, and academic adjustment in kindergarten. Emotion, 16, 553566. doi:10.1037/emo0000147
Juster, R.-P., McEwen, B. S., & Lupien, S. J. (2010). Allostatic load biomarkers of chronic stress and impact on health and cognition. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 35, 216. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2009.10.002
Kertes, D. A., Donzella, B., Talge, N. M., Garvin, M. C., Van Ryzin, M. J., & Gunnar, M. R. (2009). Inhibited temperament and parent emotional availability differentially predict young children's cortisol responses to novel social and nonsocial events. Developmental Psychobiology, 51, 521532. doi:10.1002/dev.20390
Kryski, K. R., Dougherty, L. R., Dyson, M. W., Olino, T. M., Laptook, R. S., Klein, D. N., & Hayden, E. P. (2013). Effortful control and parenting: Associations with HPA axis reactivity in early childhood. Developmental Science, 16, 531541. doi:10.1111/desc.12050
Lahey, B. B. (2009). Public health significance of neuroticism. American Psychologist, 64, 241256. doi:10.1037/a0015309
McCombs, B. L., Daniels, D. H., & Perry, K. E. (1998). Children's and teacher’ perceptions of learner-centered practices, and student motivation: Implications for early schooling. Elementary School Journal, 109, 1635. doi:10.1086/592365
McCormick, M. P., Turbeville, A. R., Barnes, S. P., & McClowry, S. G. (2014). Challenging temperament, teacher–child relationships, and behavior problems in urban low-income children: A longitudinal examination. Early Education and Development, 25, 11981218. doi:10.1080/10409289.2014.915676
McEwen, B. S., & Wingfield, J. C. (2003). The concept of allostasis in biology and biomedicine. Hormones and Behavior, 43, 215. doi:10.1016/s0018-506x(02)00024-7
McIntyre, L. L., Eckert, T. L., Fiese, B. H., DiGennaro, F. D., & Wildenger, L. K. (2007). Transition to kindergarten: Family experiences and involvement. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35, 8388. doi:10.1007/s10643-007-0175-6
Mesman, J., Stoel, R., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., van IJzendoorn, M. H., Juffer, F., Koot, H. M., & Alink, L. R. (2009). Predicting growth curves of early childhood externalizing problems: Differential susceptibility of children with difficult temperament. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 625636. doi:10.1007/s10802-009-9298-0
Morris, A. S., Silk, J. S., Steinberg, L., Sessa, F. M., Avenevoli, S., & Essex, M. J. (2002). Temperamental vulnerability and negative parenting as interacting predictors of child adjustment. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 461471. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2002.00461.x
Muris, P., & Ollendick, T. H. (2005). The role of temperament in the etiology of child psychopathology. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 8, 271289. doi:10.1007/s10567-005-8809-y
Myers, S. S., & Morris, A. S. (2009). Examining associations between effortful control and teacher–child relationships in relation to Head Start children's socioemotional adjustment. Early Education and Development, 20, 756774. doi:10.1080/10409280802571244
Oldehinkel, A. J., Veenstra, R., Ormel, J., De Winter, A. F., & Verhulst, F. C. (2006). Temperament, parenting, and depressive symptoms in a population sample of preadolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 684695. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01535.x
Phillips, D. A., Fox, N. A., & Gunnar, M. R. (2011). Same place, different experiences: Bringing individual differences to research in child care. Child Development Perspectives, 5, 4449. doi:10.1111/j.1750-8606.2010.00155.x
Pianta, R. C. (1996). Manual and scoring guide for the Student–Teacher Relationship Scale. Unpublished manuscript, University of Virginia, Charlottsville, VA.
Pianta, R. C., Steinberg, M. S., & Rollins, K. B. (1995). The first two years of school: Teacher–child relationships and deflections in children's classroom adjustment. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 295312. doi:10.1017/S0954579400006519
Pruessner, J. C., Kirschbaum, C., Meinlschmid, G., & Hellhammer, D. H. (2003). Two formulas for computation of the area under the curve represent measures of total hormone concentration versus time-dependent change. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 28, 916931. doi:10.1016/S0306-4530(02)00108-7
Putnam, S., Jacobs, J., Gartstein, M., & Rothbart, M. (2010). Development and assessment of short and very short forms of the Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire. Poster presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies, Baltimore, MD.
Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Pianta, R. C., & Cox, M. J. (2000). Teachers’ judgments of problems in the transition to kindergarten. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15, 147166. doi:10.1016/S0885-2006(00)00049-1
Rothbart, M. K. (1989). Temperament in childhood: A framework. In Kohnstamm, G., Bates, J., & Rothbart, M. K. (Eds.), Temperament in childhood (pp. 5973). Chichester: Wiley.
Rothbart, M. K. (2007). Temperament, development, and personality. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 207212. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00505.x
Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., & Hershey, K. L. (1994). Temperament and social behavior in childhood. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 40, 2139. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23087906
Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., Hershey, K. L., & Fisher, P. (2001). Investigations of temperament at three to seven years: The Children's Behavior Questionnaire. Child Development, 72, 13941408. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00355
Rothbart, M., & Bates, J. (1998). Temperament. In Damon, W. (Ser. Ed.) & Eisenberg, N. (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 4. Social, emotional, and personality development (pp. 105176). New York: Wiley.
Rothbart, M., & Bates, J. (2006). Temperament. In Eisenberg, N., Damon, W., & Lerner, R. (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (pp. 99166). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Rothbart, M. K., & Jones, L. B. (1998). Temperament, self-regulation, and education. School Psychology Review, 27, 479491.
Rueda, M. R., & Rothbart, M. K. (2009). The influence of temperament on the development of coping: The role of maturation and experience. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 2009, 1931. doi:10.1002/cd.240
Sanson, A., Hemphill, S. A., & Smart, D. (2004). Connections between temperament and social development: A review. Social Development, 13, 142170. doi:10.1046/j.1467-9507.2004.00261.x
Sapolsky, R. M. (2002). Endocrinology of the stress-response. In Becker, J., Breedlove, S., Crews, D., & McCarthy, M. (Eds.), Behavioral endocrinology (2nd ed., pp. 409450). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Schulting, A. B., Malone, P. S., & Dodge, K. A. (2005). The effect of school-based kindergarten transition policies and practices on child academic outcomes. Developmental Psychology, 41, 860871. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.41.6.860
Spinrad, T. L., Eisenberg, N., Granger, D. A., Eggum, N. D., Sallquist, J., Haugen, R., … Hofer, C. (2009). Individual differences in preschoolers' salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase reactivity: Relations to temperament and maladjustment. Hormones and Behavior, 56, 133139. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2009.03.020
Stright, A. D., Gallagher, K. C., & Kelley, K. (2008). Infant temperament moderates relations between maternal parenting in early childhood and children's adjustment in first grade. Child Development, 79, 186200. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01119.x
Talge, N. M., Donzella, B., & Gunnar, M. R. (2008). Fearful temperament and stress reactivity among preschool-aged children. Infant and Child Development, 17, 427445. doi:10.1002/icd.585
Tarullo, A. R., Mliner, S., & Gunnar, M. R. (2011). Inhibition and exuberance in preschool classrooms: Associations with peer social experiences and changes in cortisol across the preschool year. Developmental Psychology, 47, 13741388. doi:10.1037/a0024093
Thomas, A., & Chess, S. (1977). Temperament and development. New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Tout, K., de Haan, M., Campbell, E. K., & Gunnar, M. R. (1998). Social behavior correlates of cortisol activity in child care: Gender differences and time-of-day effects. Child Development, 69, 12471262. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.1998.tb06209.x
Windle, M., & Lerner, R. M. (1986). Reassessing the dimensions of temperamental individuality across the life span: The Revised Dimensions of Temperament Survey (DOTS-R). Journal of Adolescent Research, 1, 213229. doi:10.1177/074355488612007

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed