Skip to main content Accessibility help

Temperament profiles associated with internalizing and externalizing problems in preadolescence



This study investigates how temperament factors are linked to internalizing and externalizing problems in a Dutch population sample of preadolescents (N = 2230). Internalizing and externalizing problems were assessed by the Child Behavior Checklist and the Youth Self-Report and temperament was evaluated by the parent-version of the Revised Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire. Temperament profiles were examined in children with (a) neither internalizing nor externalizing problems, (b) only internalizing problems, (c) only externalizing problems, and (d) both internalizing and externalizing problems. The results suggest clearly diverging temperament profiles for these groups of children, with High-Intensity Pleasure and Shyness (representing the broad dimension of Surgency) steering the conditional probability of internalizing and externalizing problems (direction markers), Frustration mainly being related to maladaptation in general (severity marker), and Fear and Effortful Control being associated with both the severity and the direction of internalizing and externalizing problems, respectively. Girls and boys differed in the distribution across the problem groups, but the associations between temperament and psychopathology were comparable for both genders.This research is part of the Tracking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS). Participating centers of TRAILS include various Departments of the University of Groningen, the Erasmus Medical Center of Rotterdam, the Vrije University of Amsterdam, the University of Nijmegen, and the Trimbos Institute, 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 the Ministry of Justice (to F.C.V.) and by the participating centers.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: A. J. Oldehinkel, Department of Psychiatry, University of Groningen, 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.
Achenbach, T. M., McConaughty, S. H., & Howell, C. T. (1987). Child/adolescent behavioral and emotional problems: Implications of cross-informant correlations for situational specificity. Psychological Bulletin 101, 213232.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Angold, A., Costello, E. J., & Worthman, C. M. (1998). Puberty and depression: The roles of age, pubertal status and pubertal timing. Psychological Medicine 28, 5160.
Avila, C. (2001). Distinguishing BIS-mediated and BAS-mediated disinhibition mechanisms: A comparison of disinhibition models of Gray (1981, 1987) and of Patterson and Newman (1993). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 80, 311324.
Barkley, R. A. (1997). Behavioral inhibition, sustained attention, and executive functions: Constructing a unified theory of ADHD. Psychological Bulletin 121, 6594.
Bates, J. E. (2001). Adjustment style in childhood as a product of parenting and temperament. In T. D. Wachs & G. A. Kohnstamm (Eds.), Temperament in context (pp. 173200). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Bates, J. E., Pettit, G. S., & Dodge, K. A. (1995). Family and child factors in stability and change in children's aggressiveness in elementary school. In J. McCord (Ed.), Coercion and punishment in long-term perspective (pp. 124138). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Bates, J. E., Pettit, G. S., Dodge, K. A., & Ridge, B. (1998). Interaction of temperamental resistance to control and restrictive parenting in the development of externalizing behavior. Developmental Psychology 34, 982985.
Bebbington, P. E., Dunn, G., Jenkins, R., Lewis, G., Brugha, T., Farrel, M., & Metzer, H. (1998). The influence of age and sex on the prevalence of depressive conditions: Report from the National Survey of Psychiatric Morbidity. Psychological Medicine 28, 919.
Brooks–Gunn, J., & Warren, M. P. (1989). Biological contributions to affective expression in young adolescent girls. Child Development 60, 372385.
Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Cyranowski, J. M., Frank, E., Young, E., & Shear, K. (2000). Adolescent onset of the gender difference in lifetime rates of major depression. Archives of General Psychiatry 57, 2127.
Daugherty, T. K., Quay, H. C., & Ramos, L. (1993). Response perseveration, inhibitory control, and central dopaminergic activity in childhood behavioral disorders. Journal of Genetic Psychology 154, 177188.
Derryberry, D., & Reed, M. A. (1994). Temperament and the self-organization of personality. Development and Psychopathology 6, 653676.
DeVries, A. C., Glasper, E. R., & Detillion, C. E. (2003). Social modulation of stress responses. Physiology and Behavior 79, 399407.
Elliot, A. J., & Thrash, T. M. (2002). Approach–avoidance motivation in personality: Approach and avoidance temperaments and goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 82, 804818.
Ellis, L. K. (2002). Individual differences and adolescent psychosocial development. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Oregon.
Feingold, A. (1994). Gender differences in personality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin 116, 429456.
Fowles, D. C. (1993). Biological variables in psychopathology: A psychobiological perspective. In P. B. Sutker & H. E. Adams (Eds.), Comprehensive textbook of psychopathology (2nd ed., pp. 5782). New York: Plenum Press.
Gray, J. A. (1981). A critique of Eysenck's theory of personality. In H. J. Eysenck (Ed.), A model of personality (pp. 246276). New York: Springer.
Gray, J. A. (1982). The neuropsychology of anxiety: An enquiry of the septo-hippocampal system. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gray, J. A. (1987). The psychology of fear and stress. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hoffmann, J. P., & Su, S. S. (1998). Stressful life events and adolescent substance use and depression: Conditional and gender differentiated effects. Substance Use and Misuse 33, 22192262.
Iaboni, F., Douglas, V. I., & Ditto, B. (1997). Psychophysiological response of ADHD children to reward and extinction. Psychophysiology 34, 116123.
Insel, T. R., & Hulian, T. J. (1995). A gender-specific mechanism for pair bonding: Oxytocin and partner preference formation in monogamous voles. Behavioral Neuroscience 109, 782789.
Jensen, P., Traylor, J., Xenakis, S. N., & Davis, H. (1988). Child psychopathology rating scales and interrater agreement I: Parents' gender and psychiatric symptoms. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 27, 442450.
Kochanska, G. (1995). Children's temperament, mothers' discipline, and security of attachment: Multiple pathways to emerging internalization. Child Development 66, 597615.
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.
Kochanska, G., Murray, K., Jacques, T. Y., Koenig, A. L., & Vandegeest, K. A. (1996). Inhibitory control in young children and its role in emerging internalization. Child Development 36, 220232.
Kooijmans, R., Scheres, A., & Oosterlaan, J. (2000). Response inhibition and measures of psychopathology: A dimensional analysis. Child Neuropsychology 6, 17584.
Krueger, R. F., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Silva, P. A., & McGee, R. (1996). Personality traits are differentially linked to mental disorders: A multitrait-multidiagnosis study of an adolescent birth cohort. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 105, 299312.
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., West, S. G., & Sandler, I. N. (1998). Temperament as a predictor of symptomatology in children: Assessing contamination of measures. Child Development 69, 164181.
Linn, R. L. (1968). A Monte Carlo approach to the number of factors problem. Psychometrika 33, 3771.
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.
Luteijn, E., Luteijn, F., Jackson, S., Volkmar, F., & Minderaa, R. (2000). The Children's Social Behavior Questionnaire for milder variants of PDD problems: Evaluation of the psychometric characteristics. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 30, 317330.
Maziade, M. (1989). Should adverse temperament matter to the clinician? In G. A. Kohnstamm, J. E. Bates, & M. K. Rothbart (Eds.), Temperament in childhood (pp. 421435). New York: Wiley.
Mesman, J., & Koot, H. M. (2000). Common and specific correlates of preadolescent internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 109, 428437.
Mirels, H. L., Stevens, F., Greblo, P., & Yurek, D. L. (1998). Differentiation in personality descriptions of the self and others. Personality and Individual Differences 25, 663681.
Newman, D. L., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Magdol, L., Silva, P. A., & Stanton, W. R. (1996). Psychiatric disorders in a birth cohort of young adults: Prevalence, comorbidity, clinical significance, and new case incidence from ages 11 to 21. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 64, 552562.
Nigg, J. T. (2000). On inhibition/disinhibition in developmental psychopathology: Views from cognitive and personal psychology and a working inhibition taxonomy. Psychological Bulletin 126, 127.
Oldehinkel, A. J., & Hartman, C. A. (2003). Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire—parent version. Constructs and scales. Unpublished manuscript, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
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.
Oosterlaan, J. (2001). Behavioural inhibition and the development of childhood anxiety disorders. In W. K. Silverman & Ph. D. A. Treffers (Eds.), Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: Research, assessment and intervention (pp. 4571). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Oosterlaan, J., Logan, G. D., & Sergeant, J. A. (1998). Response inhibition in ADHD, CD, comorbid ADHD+CD, anxious and normal children: A meta-analysis of studies with the stop task. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 39, 411425.
Panksepp, J. (1998). Affective neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pliszka, S. R. (1989). Effect of anxiety on cognition, behavior, and stimulant response in ADHD. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 28, 882887.
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.
Quay, H. C. (1988). Theories of ADHD. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 27, 262263.
Quay, H. C. (1993). The psychobiology of undersocialized aggressive conduct disorder: A theoretical perspective. Development and Psychopathology 5, 165180.
Quay, H. C. (1997). Inhibition and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 25, 713.
Renouf, A. F., & Kovacs, M. (1994). Concordance between mothers' reports and children's self-reports of depressive symptoms: A longitudinal study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 33, 208216.
Richards, M. H., Crowe, P. A., Larson, R., & Swarr, A. (1998). Developmental patterns and gender differences in the experience of peer companionship during adolescence. Child Development 69, 154163.
Robins, R. W., John, O. P., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., & Stouthamer–Loeber, M. (1996). Resilient, overcontrolled, and undercontrolled boys: Three replicable personality types. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 70, 157171.
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. (1994). Temperament. In W. Damon & N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology. Social, emotional, personality development (pp. 105176). New York: Wiley.
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.
Rubin, K. H., & Asendorpf, J. B. (1993). Social withdrawal, inhibition, and shyness in childhood. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Sameroff, A. J., & Chandler, M. J. (1975). Reproductive risk and the continuum of caretaking causality. In F. Horowitz (Ed.), Review of child development research (pp. 187244). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sanson, A., Oberklaid, F., Pedlow, R., & Prior, M. (1991). Risk indicators: Assessment of infancy predictors of pre-school behavioral maladjustment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 32, 609626.
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.
Stevens, J. P. (2002). Applied multivariate statistics for the social sciences (4th ed.). Mahwah (NJ): Erlbaum.
Verhulst, F. C. (1995). A review of community studies. In F.C. Verhulst & H.M. Koot (Eds.), The epidemiology of child and adolescent psychopathology (pp. 146177). London: Oxford University Press.
Verhulst, F. C., & Achenbach, T. M. (1995). Empirically based assessment and taxonomy of psychopathology: Cross-cultural applications. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 4, 6176.
Verhulst, F. C., & Van der Ende, J. (1992). Agreement between parents' reports and adolescents' self-reports on problem behavior. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 33, 10111023.
Verhulst, F. C., & Van der Ende, J. (1993). “Comorbidity” in an epidemiological sample: A longitudinal perspective. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 34(5), 767783.
Verhulst, F. C., Van der Ende, J., Ferdinand, R. F., & Kasius, M. C. (1997). The prevalence of DSM-III-R diagnoses in a national sample of Dutch adolescents. Archives of General Psychiatry 54, 329336.
Wachs, T. D., & Bates, J. E. (2001). Temperament. In G. Bremmer & A. Foge (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of infant development (pp. 465502). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Walker, J. L., Lahey, B. B., Russo, M. F., Frick, P. J., Christ, M. A., McBurnett, K., Loeber, R., Stouthamer–Loeber, M., & Green, S. M. (1991). Anxiety, inhibition, and conduct disorder in children: I. Relations to social impairment. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 30, 187191.
Windle, M. (1994). Temperamental inhibition and activation: hormonal and psychosocial correlates and associated psychiatric disorders. Personality and Individual Differences 17, 6170.

Temperament profiles associated with internalizing and externalizing problems in preadolescence



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