Skip to main content Accessibility help

Effortful control as modifier of the association between negative emotionality and adolescents' mental health problems



This study examined the extent to which effortful control moderated the risk of internalizing or externalizing problems associated with high negative emotionality in a Dutch population sample of pre- and early adolescents (N = 1,922). Internalizing and externalizing problems were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist, Youth Self-Report, and Teacher Checklist of Psychopathology. Temperament (effortful control, fearfulness, frustration) was assessed with the parent version of the Revised Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire. The effects of fearfulness and frustration appeared to be attenuated by high levels of effortful control. The associations differed between the two domains of mental health investigated: effortful control reduced the effect of fearfulness on internalizing problems and the effect of frustration on externalizing problems. The effects were stronger for externalizing problems and similar for preadolescent (age 11) and adolescent (age 13/14) outcomes.This research is part of the Tracking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS). Participating centers of TRAILS include various Departments of the University of Groningen, Erasmus Medical Center of Rotterdam, University of Nijmegen, Trimbos Institute, and University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. TRAILS is financially supported by grants from The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (GB-MW 940-38-011, GB-MAG 480-01-006, ZonMw 100.001.001, and NWO 175.010.2003.005) and the Department of Justice (WODC), and by the participating centers.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Albertine J. Oldehinkel, Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Center, P.O. Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands; E-mail:


Hide All


Achenbach, T. M. (1991a). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist/4–18 and 1991 profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont.
Achenbach, T. M. (1991b). Manual for the Youth Self-Report and 1991 profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont.
Ahadi, S. A., Rothbart, M. K., & Ye, R. (1993). Children's temperament in the U.S. and China: Similarities and differences. European Journal of Personality, 7, 359378.
Akiskal, H. S. (1996). The temperamental foundations of affective disorders. In C. Mundt & M. J. Goldstein (Eds.), Interpersonal factors in the origin and course of affective disorders. London: Gaskell/Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Angold, A., & Costello, E.J. (1996). The relative diagnostic utility of child and parent reports of oppositional defiant behaviors. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 6, 253259.
Angold, A., Costello, E. J., & Worthman, C. M. (1998). Puberty and depression: The roles of age, pubertal status and pubertal timing. Psychological Medicine, 28, 5161.
Bates, J. E., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Ridge, B. (1998). Interaction of temperamental resistance to control and restrictive parenting in the development of externalizing behavior. Developmental Psychology, 34, 982995.
Belsky, J., Friedman, L., & Hsieh, K.-H. (2001). Testing a core emotion-regulation prediction: Does early attentional persistence moderate the effect of infant negative emotionality on later development? Child Development, 72, 123133.
Blair, R. J. R., & Cipolotti, L. (2000). Impaired social response reversal. Brain, 123, 11221141.
Casey, B. J., Geidd, J. N., & Thomas, K. M. (2000). Structural and functional brain development and its relation to cognitive development. Biological Psychiatry, 54, 241247.
Caspi, A., Henry, B., McGee, R. D., Moffitt, T. E., & Silva, P. A. (1995). Temperament origins of child and adolescent behavior problem: From age three to age fifteen. Child Development, 66, 5568.
Cohen, P., Cohen, J., Kasen, S., Velez, C. N., Hartmark, C., Johnson, J., et al. (1993). An epidemiological study of disorders in late childhood and adolescence. I: Age- and gender-specific prevalence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 34, 851867.
Colder, C. R., & Stice, E. (1998). A longitudinal study of the interactive effects of impulsivity and anger on adolescent problem behavior. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27, 255274.
Cole, P. M., Michel, M. K., & Teti, L. O. (1994). The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation: A clinical perspective. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(2–3, Serial No. 240).
Compton, S. N., March, J. S., Brent, D., Albano, A. M., Weersing, V. R., & Curry, J. (2004). Cognitive–behavioral psychotherapy for anxiety and depressive disorders in children and adolescents: An evidence-based review. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 43, 930959.
Derryberry, D., & Rothbart, M.K. (1988). Arousal, affect, and attention as components of temperament. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 958966.
De Sonneville, L. M. J. (1999). Amsterdam Neuropsychological Tasks: A computer-aided assessment program. In B. P. L. M. den Brinker, P. J. Beek, A. N. Brand, F. J. Maarse, & L. J. M. Mulder (Eds.), Cognitive ergonomics, clinical assessment, and computer-assisted learning: Computers in Psychology (Vol. 6, pp. 187203). Lisse, Switzerland: Swets & Zeitlinger.
De Winter, A. F., Oldehinkel, A. J., Veenstra, R., Brunnekreef, J. A., Verhulst, F. C., & Ormel, J. (2005). Nonresponse bias in mental health determinants and outcomes in a large sample of preadolescents. European Journal of Epidemiology, 20, 173181.
Eisenberg, N., Cumberland, A., Spinrad, T. L., Fabes, R. A., Shepard, S. A., Reiser, M., et al. (2001). The relations of regulation and emotionality to children's externalizing and internalizing problem behavior. Child Development, 72, 11121134.
Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Guthrie, I. K., Murphy, B. C., Maszk, P., Holmgren, R., et al. (1996). The relations of regulation and emotionality to problem behavior in elementary school children. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 141162.
Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Guthrie, I. K., & Reiser, M. (2000). Dispositional emotionality and regulation: Their role in predicting quality of social functioning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 136157.
Eisenberg, N., Sadovsky, A., Spinrad, T. L., Fabes, R., Losoya, S. H., Valiente, C., et al. (2005). The relations of problem behavior status in children's negative emotionality, effortful control, and impulsivity: Concurrent relations and prediction of change. Developmental Psychology, 41, 193211.
Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., Fabes, R. A., Reiser, M., Cumberland, A., Shepard, S. A., et al. (2004). The relations of effortful control and impulsivity to children's resiliency and adjustment. Child Development, 75, 2546.
Ferdinand, R. F., & Verhulst, F. C. (1995). Psychopathology from adolescence into young adulthood: An 8-year follow-up study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 15861594.
Fergusson, D. M., Lynskey, M. T., & Horwood, L. J. (1996). Factors associated with continuity and changes in disruptive behavior patterns between childhood and adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 24, 533553.
Gogtay, N., Giedd, J. N., Lusk, L., Hayashi, K. M., Greenstein, D., Vaituzis, A. C., et al. (2004). Dynamic mapping of human cortisol development during childhood through early adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101, 81748179.
Hankin, B. L., Abramson, L. Y., Moffitt, T. E., Silva, P. A., McGee, R., & Angell, K. E. (1998). Development of depression from preadolescence to young adulthood: Emerging gender differences in a 10-year longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 128140.
Hartman, C. A. (2000). Nederlandse vertaling van de Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire [Dutch translation of the Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire] (Internal Report). Groningen, The Netherlands: University Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry.
Kagan, J. (1997). Temperament and reactions to unfamiliarity. Child Development, 68, 139143.
Kessler, R. C., Foster, C. L., Saunders, W. B., & Stang, P. E. (1995). Social consequences of psychiatric disorders. I: Education attainment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 10261032.
Kochanska, G., Murray, K., & Harlan, E. T. (2000). Effortful control in early childhood: Continuity and change, antecedents, and implications for social development. Developmental Psychology, 36, 220232.
Krueger, R. F., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., White, J., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1996). Delay of gratification, psychopathology, and personality: Is low self-control specific to externalizing problems? Journal of Personality, 64, 107129.
Lemery, K. S., Essex, M. J., & Smider, N. A. (2002). Revealing the relation between temperament and behavior problem symptoms by eliminating measurement confounding: Expert ratings and factor analyses. Child Development, 73, 876882.
Lengua, L. J. (2002). The contribution of emotionality and self-regulation to the understanding of children's response to multiple risk. Child Development, 73, 144161.
Lengua, L. J., West, S. G., & Sandler, I. N. (1998). Temperament as a predictor of symptomatology in children: Assessing contamination of measures. Child Development, 69, 164181.
Lewinsohn, P. M., Gotlib, I. H., & Seeley, J. R. (1995). Adolescent psychopathology. IV: Specificity of psychosocial risk factors of depression and substance abuse in older adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 12211229.
Logan, G. D., Cowan, W. B., & Davis, K. A. (1984). On the ability to inhibit thought and action: A model and method. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 10, 276291.
Maziade, M., Caperaa, P., Laplante, B, Boudreault, M., Thiverge, J., Cote, R., et al. (1985). Value of difficult temperament among seven-year-olds in the general population for predicting psychiatric diagnosis at age 12. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142, 943946.
Muris, P., & Ollendick, T. H. (2005). The role of temperament in the etiology of child psychopathology. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 8, 271289.
Murphy, B. C., Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A, Shepard, S., & Guthrie, I. K. (1999). Consistency and change in children's emotionality and regulation: A longitudinal study. Merrill–Palmer Quarterly, 45, 413444.
Nelson, E. E., Leibenluft, E., McClure, E. B., & Pine, D. S. (2005). The social re-orientation of adolescence: A neuroscience perspective on the process and its relation to psychopathology. Psychological Medicine, 35, 163174.
Norman, D. A., & Shallice, T. (1986). Attention to action: Willed and automatic control of behavior. In R. J. Davidson, C. E. Schwartz, & D. Shapiro (Eds.), Consciousness and self-regulation (pp. 118). New York: Plenum Press.
O'Brien, B. S., & Frick, P. J. (1996). Reward dominance: Associations with anxiety, conduct problems, and psychopathy in children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 24, 223240.
Oldehinkel, A. J., & Hartman, C. A. (2003). Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire—Parent version. Constructs and scales. Unpublished manuscript, University of Groningen.
Oldehinkel, A. J., Hartman, C. A., De Winter, A. F., Veenstra, R., & Ormel, J. (2004). Temperament profiles associated with internalizing and externalizing problems in preadolescence. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 421440.
Oldehinkel, A. J., Wittchen, H.-U., & Schuster, P. (1999). Prevalence, 20-month incidence and outcome of unipolar depressive disorders in a community sample of adolescents. Psychological Medicine, 29, 655668.
Olson, S. L., Schilling, E. M., & Bates, J. E. (1999). Measurement of impulsivity: Construct coherence, longitudinal stability, and relationship with externalizing problems in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 27, 151165.
Oosterlaan, J., & Sergeant, J. A. (1996). Inhibition in ADHD, aggressive, and anxious children: A biologically based model of child psychopathology. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 24, 1936.
Ormel, J., Oldehinkel, A. J., Ferdinand, R. F., Hartman, C. A., De Winter, A. F., Veenstra, R., et al. (2005). Internalizing and externalizing problems in adolescence: General and dimension-specific effects of familial loadings and preadolescent temperament traits. Psychological Medicine, 35, 18251835.
Posner, M. I., & Rothbart, M. K. (1998). Attention, self-regulation and consciousness. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, 353, 19151927.
Putnam, S. P., Ellis, L. K., & Rothbart, M. K. (2001). The structure of temperament from infancy through adolescence. In A. Eliasz & A. Angleitner (Eds.), Advances/proceedings in research on temperament (pp. 165182). Berlin: Pabst Scientist Publisher.
Rappaport, N., & Thomas, C. (2004). Recent research findings on aggressive and violent behavior in youth: Implications for clinical assessment and intervention. Journal of Adolescent Health, 35, 260277.
Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., & Evans, D. E. (2000). Temperament and personality: Origins and outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 122135.
Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., Hershey, K. L., & Fisher, P. (2001). Investigations of temperament from three to seven years: The Children's Behavior Questionnaire. Child Development, 72, 13941408.
Rothbart, M. K., & Bates, J. E. (1998). Temperament. In W. Damon (Ser. Ed.) & N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (pp. 105176). New York: Wiley.
Rothbart, M. K., Ellis, L. K., & Posner, M. I. (2004). Temperament and self-regulation. In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications (pp. 357370). New York: Guilford Press.
Rothbart, M. K., Ellis, L. K., Rueda, M. R., & Posner, M. I. (2003). Developing mechanisms of temperamental effortful control. Journal of Personality, 71, 11131143.
Rothbart, M. K., & Putnam, S. P. (2002). Temperament and socialization. In L. Pulkkinen & A. Caspi (Eds.), Paths to successful development (pp. 1945). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rothbart, M. K., & Rueda, M. R. (2005). The development of effortful control. In U. Mayr, E. Awh, & S. Keele (Eds.), Developing individuality in the human brain: A tribute to Michael I. Posner (pp. 167188). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Rubin, K. H., Coplan, R. J., Fox, N. A., & Calkins, S. D. (1995). Emotionality, emotion regulation and preschoolers' social adaptation. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 4962.
Rueda, M. R., Rothbart, M. K., McCandliss, B. D., Saccomanno, L., & Posner, M. I. (2005). Training, maturation, and genetic influences on the development of executive attention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 102, 1493114936.
Rumbaugh, D. M., & Washburn, D. A. (1995). Attention and memory in relation to learning: A comparative adaptation perspective. In G. R. Lyon & N. A. Krasengor (Eds.), Attention, memory and executive function (pp. 199219). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
Rutter, M., Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. E. (2003). Using sex differences in psychopathology to study causal mechanisms: Unifying issues and research strategies. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 10921115.
Rydell, A. M., Berlin, L., & Bohlin, G. (2003). Emotionality, emotion regulation, and adaptation among 5- to 8-year-old children. Emotion, 3, 3047.
Shiner, R., & Caspi, A. (2003). Personality differences in childhood and adolescence: Measurement, development, and consequences. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 232.
Shoda, Y., Mischel, W., & Peake, P. K. (1990). Predicting adolescent cognitive and self-regulatory competencies from preschool delay of gratification: Identifying diagnostic conditions. Developmental Psychology, 26, 978986.
Sourander, A., Helstelä, L., & Helenius, H. (1999). Parent–adolescent agreement on emotional and behavioral problems. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 34, 657663.
Valiente, C., Eisenberg, N., Smith, C. L., Reiser, M., Fabes, R. A., Losoya, S., et al. (2003). The relations of effortful control and reactive control to children's externalizing problems: A longitudinal assessment. Journal of Personality, 71, 11711196.
Van Goozen, S. H. M., Matthys, W., Cohen-Kettenis, P. T., Gispen-de Wied, C., Wiegant, V. M., & Van Engeland, H. (1998). Salivary cortisol and cardiovascular activity during stress in oppositional-defiant disorder boys and normal controls. Biological Psychiatry, 43, 531539.
Vasey, M. W., El-Hag, N., & Daleiden, E. L. (1996). Anxiety and the processing of emotionally threatening stimuli: Distinctive patterns of selective attention among high- and low-test-anxious children. Child Development, 67, 11731185.
Verhulst, F. C., & Achenbach, T. M. (1995). Empirically based assessment and taxonomy of psychopathology: Cross-cultural applications. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 4, 6176.
Vickers, A. J., & Altman, D. G. (2001). Analysing controlled trials with baseline and follow up measurements. British Medical Journal, 323, 11231124.
Wachs, T. D., & Bates, J. E. (2001). Temperament. In G. Bremmer & A. Foge (Eds.)., Blackwell handbook of infant development (pp. 465502). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Wolfson, J., Fields, J. H., & Rose, S. A. (1987). Symptoms, temperament, resiliency, and control in anxiety-disordered preschool children. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 26, 1622.

Effortful control as modifier of the association between negative emotionality and adolescents' mental health problems



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