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Parenting style as a moderator of the effect of temperament on adolescent externalising and internalising behaviour problems

  • Primrose Letcher (a1), John Toumbourou (a1) (a2), Ann Sanson (a1) (a3), Margot Prior (a1), Diana Smart (a3) and Frank Oberklaid (a2)...


The direct and interactive effects of temperament and parenting were examined in the prediction of early adolescent externalising behaviour problems (conduct disorder and hyperactivity), internalising problems (depression and anxiety), and substance use, using data on 1,402 13- and 14-year-olds. Significant direct effects were found for four temperament factors (negative reactivity, task persistence, activity, and approach), and four parenting factors (warmth, power assertion, physical punishment, and monitoring). For those high in persistence, low in negative reactivity, or low in activity, problem outcomes were generally very rare, regardless of parenting. Prevalence of behaviour problems was generally elevated among those low in persistence, high in negotive reactivity, or high in activity, even in cases where parenting was high in positive qualities such as warmth and monitoring. Prevalence of certain behaviour problems was substantially elevated when low persistence, high negotive reactivity, or high activity occurred in combination with lower parental warmth or lower monitoring. The results suggest that parenting can play an important moderating role in the relationship of particular temperament characteristics to behavioural problems.


Corresponding author

Department of Psychology, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia, Telephone: 61 3 8344 5519, Facsimile: 61 3 9347 6618, E-mail:


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